Atal Setu captures Mumbai's imagination, but some motorists' raise eyebrows with behaviour

NewsDrum Desk
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Mumbai, Jan 15 (PTI) Nearly 80,000 vehicles have used the Atal Setu, the country's longest sea bridge that was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 12, since it was thrown open to the public at 8am on Saturday but the over-enthusiasm of some motorists has also raised concern among netizens.

People have been spotted clicking selfies, stopping on the bridge to enjoy the view of the sea and even trying to access areas that could turn dangerous for those involved, as well as littering, with photographs, videos and reels flooding social media.

On Saturday, a total of 24,083 vehicles used the sea bridge, while the figure was 55,367 on Day 2, a Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority spokesperson said on Monday. The minimum one-way toll on the 21-8 kilometre sea bridge that connects Sewri in Mumbai to Chirle in neighbouring Raigad is Rs 250.

"My entire family and I enjoyed this great ride on modern India's yet another engineering marvel, #AtalSetu, aka #MTHL. Mumbai never looked so beautiful; we could never have this angled view of the great skyline of SoBo and Navi Mumbai! Such infrastructure development fills our hearts with pride as Indians," @rakesh_delivers wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

Panvel resident Vaibhav Buva, who works in an advertising agency in Lower Parel in the metropolis, said the bridge has been built for people like him who otherwise had to navigate "nightmare traffic" to get to work.

He also said the lack of dividers at the toll collection booths resulted in a couple of car owners, coming from the metropolis side, taking a U-turn on the bridge to click photographs.

Buva, however, noted "everybody on the bridge was happy and elated" adding that he too shot a couple of reels.

Some motorists also shared photographs of litter on the bridge, flouting of rules, blocking of emergency lanes by some vehicles and stopping midway for selfies.

"Just one day after the Atal Setu inauguration, Indians are treating it as a romantic getaway, even though there's a fee to use it. Just imagine the excitement if this bridge were free. It would be perfect for social media influencers," @AnIndianBoi wrote on X.

While Mumbai police has banned motorcycles, tractors, auto rickshaws, mopeds, animal-pulled carts and other slow-moving vehicles on the sea bridge, some photographs of an autorickshaw as well as motorcycles went viral on social media.

"On the day when #RoadSafety month commences in India, an Auto Rickshaw has been spotted on the #MTHL bridge; what else do you'll expect to see being spotted on the bridge? a) Tractor b) Cycle c) A stall selling CORN during monsoon season," Mumbai resident Suheil Marchant wrote sarcastically on X.

A video showing some couples crossing the bridge ladder to alight on a viewing platform also went viral, prompting some netizens to ask police to book them for the dangerous act.

"Utter nonsense. This should not happen! Government authorities, please take action on these cars!," wrote "Mumbai Rain's on X after cars were seen blocking emergency lanes etc.

However, some netizens also said such acts may be the result of curiosity due to the newness of the sea bridge as well as the sights around, like oil refineries and port operations which are otherwise inaccessible to most people, and normal traffic behaviour would return when the novelty wears off.

In an appeal on X, the MMRDA said, "Experience the joy of driving on India's longest sea bridge having speed limit of 100 kmph. For your safety, we advise against stopping on the bridge for selfies. Drive responsibly and enjoy the journey." A top Mumbai police official said action was taken against 122 vehicles on the first day and 42 on Sunday night. PTI KK ND DC BNM BNM