Taking a step closer towards opening up the city’s eastern waterfront, the Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) on Tuesday finalised an architect to draw up a master plan for 500 hectares between Wadala and Ferry Wharf and is looking to be appointed as a special planning authority for the area.
The MbPT in its board meeting decided to appoint Ahmedabad-based HCP Design, Pricewater Cooper and Unity Consultancy to design Mumbai’s eastern waterfront, incorporating marinas, promenades, public parks, cycling tracks and residential and commercial units. The firm, which has designed the Sabarmati riverfront, was chosen from a list of six consultants on the basis of the lowest cost and best concept plan.
The selected architect will be given six months to draw up a master plan for 500 hectares, of which 350 hectare will be actually developed for the city, while the rest will be used for allied operations of the port. Once the master plan is ready, the architect will prepare a detailed implementation plan for 150 hectares that is vacant and immediately available.
Sanjay Bhatia, MbPT chairman, said, “People will be able to see some work in one year. Ideally, we would like to be special planning authority for the area though we haven’t discussed this with the government yet. We are also still yet to see if this will be legally possible. But in any case, we will work in tandem with the civic body’s plan for Mumbai.”
While the MbPT is optimistic about speeding up development of the 150 hectares that is vacant and immediately available, the land is not contiguous and is scattered, which can throw up challenges. “We are planning to use the New York-model of grid development, as the land is scattered. Once we have a detailed plan in place, we will develop the area grid by grid, street by street as and how it becomes available,” Bhatia said.
Bimal Patel, who heads HCP Design, said, “Even the buildings in Ballard Pier were built at different times, but they have the same height and character. Across the world, this principle is followed to maintain the city’s essence, but Mumbai has forgotten it along the way. We are trying to bring it back in our planning.”
While the final plan is subject to change, the concept plan that the architect has showcased includes transforming the encroachment-ridden Daru khana area into a long-winding promenade with a ‘London eye’-like structure, and creating a sprawling 100-acre garden in the Hay Bunder area.
The plan also envisages the creation of an affordable housing district in Sewri, and at some other locations along the sea-front, where the MbPT will resettle about 15,000 families of slum dwellers to free it up for the city’s infrastructure development. The MbPT will also create housing for its staff in these areas.