<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The plan for Mumbai’s first artificial beach off Marine Drive faces a challenge due to huge shortage of sand. This was supposed to be one of the first reclamations in the city that was being undertaken for creating open spaces rather than real-estate projects.The project to extend the Girgaon Chowpatty beach further south to the iconic Queen’s Necklace and nourish the existing beach will require 1.5-2 million cubic metres of sand. While supply is already limited due to high demand and restrictions on mining, this sand has to be of the same quality as that on the beach.The around Rs 200-crore project is part of the Asian Development Bank (ADB)-funded Sustainable Coastal Protection and Management Investment Programme (SCPMIP) to be completed by December 2019.Executed by the Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB), it will control coastal erosion at vulnerable beaches and seashore using soft, environment friendly solutions.The 12 sites selected by the MMB for feasibility studies include Marine Drive, Aksa and Juhu beaches and Mahim Bay in Mumbai. Under the project, Marine Drive is supposed to get a beach, which is around 1 km longer and 200 metres wide, with a sand retention structure and offshore reef. It will cover a third of Marine Drive.”Marine Drive is our first priority,” a source said, adding this will have the beach being extended till the Marine Drive flyover with ungainly tetrapods dotting the stretch being replaced. It will add value to the largely saturated Chowpatty.”However, we require around 2 million cubic metres of sand,” the official noted, adding they needed to ensure that the “sand quality was up to the mark.” The source admitted that availability of sand of this quantity and quality posed a challenge in the project.While sand from Satpati river was considered, it did not match with the coarser sand at Chowpatty.The MMB is considering sand from creeks in the Konkan or from dredging blocked channels and rivers and sand located at low depths near beaches and imported yet expensive sand. Sand from crushed rocks can be used to reduce the need for high-quality sand. Though sand can be extracted from deeper seas, there are strict regulations governing it.Work on the Marine Drive project is expected to start in around two years and will be completed in around two working seasons.The source said that they would undertake work till the flyover and then consider extending the beach till the southernmost tip of Marine Drive due to reasons like possibility of litigation and sand availability.”The extension depends on the response from local residents,” he added. Lack of sand may also put a question mark on the viability of the project at the severely eroded Mahim Bay and the beach.There nourishment is proposed for creating a 100-metre wide and 2-km long beach. The Mithi river will have to be channelised and the water treated to prevent turbid discharge from entering the bay.MMB CEO Atul Patne said that they were considering sites and options for extracting sand. “We will study which sand can be used,” he added.The reclamation at Marine Drive will be done via sea with barges ferrying sand to prevent any impact on road traffic.Originally made up of seven islands, Mumbai has seen waves of reclamations, both legal and illegal. Most of these projects, like the controversial post-Independence Backbay Reclamation scheme, were real-estate driven.Mumbai’s area has increased from 437.37 sq km in 1991 to 482 sq km now due to reclamations.Despite pretensions of being an emerging international city, India’s financial capital is woefully short of open spaces. Mumbai has 1,052 open spaces, of which 186 are under adoption. Over 700 have been developed and 160 are being taken up by the BMC’s garden department.According to the BMC, with 2,968 hectares of open spaces, Mumbai has a per capita open space of 2.48 sq metres – lower than global cities like New York. However, the figure dwindles to 0.88 sq metres in some areas, since most open spaces allow only restricted entry.

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Sand scarcity hits Mumbai’s first artificial beach project