JNPT’s 12-lane freight corridor to ease traffic snarls around Mumbai

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Mumbai: Traffic congestion on highways around Mumbai will reduce considerably in the next few years, with the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) awarding the last of the four major work orders for the proposed 43-km-long Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) this week.

Once completed, the 12-lane DFC will reduce traffic moving from Sion-Panvel highway, Vashi and Thane and heading to Pune and Goa, port officials told The Hindu. woek is expected to be finished by 2019.

“The dedicated freight corridor will be access-controlled and signal-free, with smooth movement over eight flyovers. It will ease congestion on the Palm Beach junction, Sion-Panvel highway, Mumbai-Pune Expressway and Mumbai-Goa Highway. We have issued work orders for the last and the fourth package this week,” said Prashant J. Fegade, project director, National Highways Authority of India.

The ₹3,000-crore DFC is part of the Jawaharlal Nehru port’s ease-of-doing business targets set by the Prime Minister’s Office. The port is connected to Mumbai-Pune Highway (NH-4B) and Expressway (NH-4), Mumbai-Goa Highway (NH-17) and State Highway 54, which goes towards Uran, with just four lanes each. JNPT officials said that 10,000 trucks coming into the port every week cause routine congestion on these highways, creating a ripple effect on external thoroughfares around Mumbai.

However, with a dedicated freight corridor bringing transporters and truckers under a Uber-like model and creating green channels under the Direct Port Delivery for consignments, congestion will fall to zero by the end of 2019, officials said.

“At times, it takes 36 hours to clear the congestion around the port; it was a curse and brought a bad name to the port globally. With it (congestion) there came a lot of ill-practices of paying ‘extra’ clearance money. But a dedicated corridor for container traffic will end this nightmare once and for all,” said Neeraj Bansal, deputy chairman, JNPT.

The highways to Goa, Pune and Mumbai will get eight more lanes to create the corridor. “It will not only ensure faster evacuation of cargo with the least inconvenience to non-port traffic, but at the same time will also help us take care of the future growth in vehicular and container traffic on account of the proposed Navi Mumbai International Airport and a fourth JNPT terminal,” said port chairman Anil Diggikar.

The DFC will start from Karaphata Interchange near Uran on NH-4B, covering SH-54 for a distance of six kilometres. A new interchange will be built at Gavhanphata, while the corridor will continue towards the highways leading up to Pune and Goa.

In addition, the port is taking other measures to reduce congestion, such as shifting custom operations from gates to holding yards, allowing inter-terminal transfer of trailers, and monitoring traffic in real time.

“We have put in place a team of specialised officials for quick response to incidents of potential hold-ups,” said an official.

Putting in place the Direct Port Delivery has meant consignments are no longer held up at the CFS (container freight stations), which have been completely eliminated from the clearance process, officials said. While the containers were held for nearly a week at the CFS, the consignments are being cleared in hours now.

“The Direct Port Delivery is functional now and being directly monitored by the PMO, which has set a target of 40% clearance of containers through DPD. This green channel has meant saving of ₹20,000 per TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) in cost on transaction for the trade,” said Diggikar.