Steel Authority props Mumbai sea link

By Quaid Najmi, IANS,

Mumbai : After supplying steel for critical components in India’s first moon mission Chandrayaan and the first railway tracks in Jammu and Kashmir, Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) has earned another feather: propping the nation’s first open sea bridge.

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Almost two-third of the steel used in the construction of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link (BWSL) has come from the public sector giant, a senior company official said.

While the Rs.1,600-crore ($327-million) BWSL, due for inauguration later this month, has gobbled up nearly 22,235 tonnes of steel, SAIL’s share is pegged at over 13,780 tonnes, according to the official.

“The steel is of the best quality and has come from our integrated plants,” he told IANS here.

Taking 10 years to be completed, the cable-supported eight-lane bridge will be the country’s first open sea link, reducing travel time between suburban Bandra with Worli in the south from 60-90 minutes now to barely six-eight minutes.

The daily traffic volume on this route exceeds 1.4 million, leading to massive traffic snarl-ups, especially during the morning and evening peak hours.

Presently, Mahim Causeway is the only connecting link between the southern island city and the northwest suburbs.

The steel behemoth, which goes by the dictum that “there’s a bit of SAIL in everyone’s life”, has done it for BWSL also: its steel components that include thermo-mechanically treated bars, 36/40 mm plates, cables and structurals have gone into creating a marvel that can withstand powerful sea currents, strong winds and gales.

The project’s total weight would be equivalent to that of 50,000 African bush elephants – the world’s largest land animal, often weighing up to nine tonnes.

Moreover, all the steel rods used in the 5.6-km BWSL, if laid in a straight row, would measure nearly 3,000 km or around the breadth of India, the SAIL official said.

The project is ready and will be open to traffic by June-end, Maharashtra’s road development minister Vimal Mundada told IANS.

“The inauguration would be as per schedule, by June-end,” Mundada said.

The state government is awaiting a confirmation from United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi to inaugurate the project, which has been executed by Hindustan Construction Co. It will also operate the bridge for the next five years.

The chief attraction of the magnificent gleaming structure are the two cable-stayed bridges for the passage of fishing boats.

The bridge rests on two towers, each 126 metres tall or equivalent to a 43-storeyed building. The government also has plans to provide a viewers gallery at the top of the towers that would offer a bird’s eye view of the entire city.

There is a modern, automated, 16-lane toll plaza at the southern end, and the bridge has been equipped with sophisticated security and monitoring systems.