Mumbai's Eastern Waterfront

Mumbai's eastern waterfront may soon turn into a “vibrant zone“ with areas earmarked for leisure, entertainment and commercial establishments, including luxury hotels and malls, as the Centre plans to open more than half of Mumbai Port Trust land for development.
A land development committee set up by Union minister for shipping and ports Nitin Gadkari is preparing a draft report of the plan to commercially exploit around 400 hectares of the 710-hectare Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) land.“The committee, led by former MbPT chairman Rani Jadhav , is likely to recommend setting up a special planning authority--Port Land Development Authority--whose primary role will be to prepare the land use and economic plan for the project to be executed on a build-operate-transfer basis,“ said a source. “Around 30% of the land will be reserved for open spaces. One of the suggestions is to set aside around 20 hectares for social forestry .“
The plan envisions an international-class promenade, a marina, a floating hotel and restaurant, water sports, jetties and a Ferris Wheel on the lines of the London Eye along the 28-km coastline. At present, the land houses docks, warehouses, oil installations, tenant property , scrap yard and encroachments.
While the land development committee can just recommend activities that can be permitted on the eastern waterfront, the Port Land Development Authority (PLDA) will have the power to reserve the land for leisure and entertainment activities to make the area vibrant, said a senior MbPT official, adding, “The authority will also have the power to relocate existing viable activities in a specific zone to free up land.“
A committee member said, “The PLDA will have to set aside at least 20% of the land for road and infrastructure.We have recommended a central spine road with a public transport system in the form of either the bus rapid or light rail transport system.“ The transport system may be linked with the railways and BEST bus network with Wadala as the focal point. “Ideally , the speed of the transport system should be 20-25 kmph so that visitors and hop in and out of the vehicles,“ he said.
While the project cost is yet to be estimated, commercial exploitation of the land will be essential to generate funds .“Some portion of the land will be earmarked for budget as well as luxury hotels. A convention centre, malls and businesses linked with the service sector may come up. The FSI needed to set up these facilities will have to be worked out by the PLDA in consultation with the stakeholders,“ the source said.
But sounding a note of caution, an MbPT official said, “The project will be a challenge as rehabilitating the slum dwellers and tenants will be a major headache. There are about 20,000 slums whose residents work at the port.“
But Admiral I C Rao of the Mumbai Docklands Regeneration Forum disagrees. “The task is not difficult as the port trust owns the land. By passing an Act in the parliament, the government can take back the land given to private firms and cancelling the lease of public sector undertakings, such as the Food Corporation of India, can be done through a cabinet note.“ He suggested that slums could be relocated near Nadkarni Park and the container terminal plan be scrapped and replaced by a cruise ship terminal to cater to interstate transport. Rao said the Sassoon Victoria Dock and the Princess Dock, which were built in 1888, need to preserved.

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