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HindustanTimes Fri,18 Apr 2014

City’s grand megapolis dream mooted

Ketaki Ghoge, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, January 18, 2013
First Published: 01:11 IST(18/1/2013) | Last Updated: 01:38 IST(18/1/2013)

In the next four decades, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region could be transformed into the largest megapolis in the world – which would simultaneously be a business, entertainment and residential hub.

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 A year and a half after Singaporean firm Surbana submitted an ambitious concept plan for MMR, detailing the urban growth strategy for 2032 and 2052, the plan is now ready to be submitted to the state for approval. Last week, it was presented to key government officials for consensus.

The project, mooted by a state government think tank, is a development blueprint for the city and has been reworked after rounds of consultations. It envisages Mumbai as a ‘city of cities,’ – a polycentric megapolis comprising self-contained units which will be developed as independent commercial and residential hubs. The units will include the island city, which will regain the tag of the central business district, while the suburbs and the hinterland, will have a greater focus on housing and commerce.

Running through these new urban growth centres will be transport corridors, from metro to high speed rail and five trans-harbour links. The city’s skyline will transform, with skyscrapers centered in business district, the height of the buildings tapering down as one moves north.

Even though this seems like a tall order, state officials are undeterred. “We are very serious about the concept plan. It will first be presented to the Metropolitan Planning Committee (MPC) for approval and then the cabinet. The MPC is yet to get elected, but we have asked for the elections to be conducted shortly,’’ said J K Banthia, chief secretary of the state.

The MPC is the apex planning authority for urban agglomeration and comprises elected representatives of all urban local bodies in the MMR, nominated members, and government officials.

“The concept plan is a long term development framework and we have already started consultations with planning agencies and local bodies so that basic ideas are discussed and included in their planning process,” said BC Khatua, the project director of Mumbai Transformation Support Unit (MTSU), the think tank executing the project. 

Experts, however, have reservations about its practicality. “It is not grounded in our governance realities. It lays too much emphasis on Nariman Point as a central business district. This goes against the grain of our urban and transport policies,’’ said VK Phatak, urban planning expert.

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