Atal Setu: India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi opens country's longest sea bridge

Mumbai's road link will cut travel times and improve traffic flow in the metropolis, officials say

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inspecting the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Sewri-Nhava Sheva Atal Setu at Navi Mumbai, in Maharashtra on January 12, 2024. Photo: Indian Press Information Bureau
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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday officially opened the country’s longest sea bridge in Mumbai, the latest project completed in a vast government infrastructure programme.

The 21.8-kilometre bridge will connect the wealthy South Mumbai area of the financial hub with Navi Mumbai, a satellite city.

It will reduce the two-hour journey between the two urban centres to 20 minutes.

The bridge is called Atal Bihari Vajpayee-Nhava Sheva Atal Setu bridge, after the late former Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

“The inauguration of Atal Setu exemplifies India's infrastructural prowess and underscores the country's trajectory towards a Viksit Bharat [developed India],” Mr Modi said after the inauguration.

“The project not only provides services but also generates employment. More than 17,000 labourers and 1,500 engineers got jobs during the construction of this bridge.”

The bridge, which cost 178 billion rupees ($2.14bn) to build, is 17 times heavier than the weight of the steel used in the construction of the Eiffel Tower.

Construction began in 2018 and the six-lane structure is the 12th longest sea bridge in the world.

It stretches about 16.5km over the sea and 5.5km on land. About 70,000 vehicles are expected to cross the bridge daily.

Car drivers will have to pay 250 rupees ($3) for a single journey to cross the bridge, with higher tolls for larger vehicles.

Mumbai, a city of about 23 million, lacks adequate road infrastructure and commuters are often stuck in traffic jams.

Navi Mumbai is a satellite city outside Mumbai that is home to several multinational corporations, start-ups and educational institutions.

The bridge will also improve connectivity between both Mumbai International Airport and Navi Mumbai International Airport, officials said, while reducing travel time from Mumbai to the neighbouring district of Pune, and the coastal state of Goa, and South India.

The maximum speed for four-wheel vehicles has been kept at 100kph, while two-wheelers, tractors, and autorickshaws will not be allowed on the bridge.

Mr Modi later launched several other infrastructure development projects in the state.

India has built almost 50,000km of national motorways since Mr Modi came to power in 2014, with the national total now 145,155km, according to government figures.

The country goes to the polls for national elections this year, with Mr Modi currently leading in the opinion surveys.

Updated: January 13, 2024, 7:03 AM