To avoid delays in the implementation of a proposed port land development policy, which will open up 28km of Mumbai’s eastern coastline for public use, the Union government plans to devolve decision-making rights to the states.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Union government plans to introduce the policy before the next parliamentary session ends. It has then proposed to set up a committee under the Maharashtra chief secretary so that any issues that crop up during the policy’s implementation in Mumbai can be resolved at the state level itself. Currently, state governments have to approach the Union government for any decisions about development on port land.
Hindustan Times has been reporting the process of making the port land more accessible for the city at large since July 2014.
Union minister for road transport, highways and shipping Nitin Gadkari said, “The cabinet note for the port land policy is ready. It will be approved before or during the upcoming parliament session. Within that, we have proposed to set up a committee under the chief secretary to take decisions on any issues that crop up during the policy’s implementation.”
Gadkari said, “Decisions regarding Mumbai can be efficiently taken only in Mumbai. It is not feasible to take these decisions in Delhi.”
Currently, the entire 28-km eastern coastline of Mumbai — from Colaba to Wadala — bordering 742 hectare of land, is locked under MbPT and does not feature prominently in the cityscape.
The minister said the policy will pave the way for development of port land in Mumbai, locked under the Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT), for public use while taking care of existing tenants and slums on the land. “We have directed MbPT to also develop an iconic structure, much better than structures like the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, that will become a global landmark,” Gadkari said.
Opening up Mumbai’s eastern waterfront for the city was one of the earliest promises made by the BJP-led Union government after coming to power with a resounding majority. A panel under Rani Jadhav, former chairperson of MbPT, had in December 2014 submitted recommendations to the Union shipping ministry on how to free up land owned by the agency for public housing, recreational purposes and transportation. The report was to be made public for suggestions and objections. However, while the report was never put in public domain, nearly two years passed with there being no further action on opening up Mumbai’s eastern seafront.
Until now, the state government has consistently pointed to the Central government regarding any questions about the delay in opening up Mumbai’s eastern waterfront.
While an overall port land development policy still awaits the Union cabinet’s nod, the MbPT has recently shortlisted six design consultants, several of international renown, to draw up a detailed master plan for 165 hectare that is mostly vacant and readily available for development. The agency is also looking to have a concept design plan for a total of 342 of the 742 hectares land under it, looking at creating marinas, restaurants, shopping arcades, residential and commercial development.