Mia Wannewitz

On April 7th, the TRANSCEND team visited several construction sites of the Mumbai Coastal Road Project. It was a quite impressing feeling to stand in front of such a massive building lot in the ocean and to personally see how it reconfigures the entire western coastline of the city.

The Coastal Road Project is a long planned infrastructure project, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2023. It composes of roads based on reclamation, bridges, elevated roads and tunnels. The ca. 35km long, eight-lane road will stretch across two bays, connecting the southern tip of Mumbai with the end of the Bandra Worli Sea Link further North. It was developed with the objective to decrease the traffic load in the city, reduce travel time, facilitate commuting and create coastal green recreational spaces. It also promises to reduce coastal erosion through sea walls that protect against storm surges and floods.

However, since it’s early stages, the project was highly contested. Critique raised in the media as well as by activists and scientists was recently echoed in the IPCC WG II’s latest Assessment Report on Climate Change Impacts (chapter 10, p. 65). The coastal road is described as an example for maladaptive infrastructure, meaning that beside its protection against floods and sea level rise it might have unintended negative impacts on coastal ecosystems in the long run.

The TRANSCEND groups looks at the political economy of flood risk management in Mumbai and visiting the Coastal Road site was interesting to see due to the critical debate around it on its potential impacts on the flood risk of Mumbai. Together with various stakeholders, we assess flood adaptation options to showcase potential future adaptation pathways.