Burj Khalifa-like tower on port land in Mumbai?

  • Kunal Purohit, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: May 25, 2016 15:46 IST
A view of the Mumbai landscape. (Kalpak Pathak )

The Mumbai Port Trust ( MbPT) wants the city’s eastern waterfront to soon have a glistering tower to match Dubai’s Burj Khalifa — the world’s tallest skyscrapper— hostels and a convention centre. To fund all these, the MbPT also wants some real estate development on t he eastern waterfront.

Unveiling the areas that the port trust has identified as its priorities while opening up the port lands, MbPT chief Sanjay Bhatia said the port would see such developments very soon.

These were some of t he ” aspirations” l isted out by Bhatia. He said these would be funded by the port by allowing commercial development on some of its land parcels.

However, even as it seeks to do this, the port has now decided to reject, at least for now, a crucial suggestion made by the Rani Jadhav-led land development committee (LDC).

The LDC had, in its report submitted in December 2014, suggested that the port trust form a special purpose vehicle (SPV), a specialised authority that would spearhead the development of t hese port l ands. The MbPT has now shot down the proposal and has instead decided to form a separate department within the port trust itself, which will helm these efforts to overhaul the port lands.

“We decided that, at least for now, we don’t want to form such an SPV for this purpose. It’s not that easy. Most of our l ands are under l itigation. The SPV won’t even know what to do. Hence, for the next three-four years at least, we don’t want such an SPV,” said Bhatia.

He, in fact, said the idea was to create an SPV at “the right time.”

“We aren’t ruling it out. At some point, when we feel that the time is ripe, we may create one to take over from there,” he added.

The LDC, appointed by shipping minister Nitin Gadkari, had recommended Mumbai Port Lands Development Authority (MPLDA), an SPV that will be given all powers to take over the development of these lands.

“The reason was that this could streamline t he process and also ensure that the specialised authority could i nvolve skilled t alent and specific processes. The MbPT doesn’t have the expertise and the resources to do so,” a member of the LDC said.

Insiders in the port, however, said why the port doesn’t want to lose control over its lands.

“One must remember that the port is otherwise a loss-making body. Its future and financial independence depends on these assets that it holds ( the 1,800 acres of land). Forming such an SPV would mean that we lose complete control over the land, a thought that is frightening for us,” said a senior MbPT official.

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