Days after the Union shipping ministry gave the ambitious overhaul of the Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) land a push by giving a nod to resettling slums, voices in favour of greater participation are getting louder.
The clamour revolves around a single point — urging the ministry to make public the report prepared by the Rani Jadhav-led land development committee (LDC). The report is a blueprint on how the land must be developed so as to make it accessible for citizens and it results in creating more public spaces. The demand is rising from stakeholders, including union leaders to experts and activists. And, now the Shiv Sena, led by Member of Parliament (MP) Arvind Sawant, has made a high-pitch demand for the report to be made public.
Incidentally, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray had first demanded that the vacant lands in the MbPT be used for public use by creating green spaces, tourist attractions and a multi-purpose convention centre. Soon after, union shipping minister Nitin Gadkari announced the formation of the LDC, seeking to spearhead the transformation. However, the Sena, which was not taken in confidence, felt slighted on the issue. Sawant has now demanded that the report be tabled. He had raised a question in the Parliament 10 days ago about the ministry’s plans on rehabilitating the slums on port land.
“It is high time that the report be tabled and made available to citizens. Uddhavji has been consistently demanding that the port land be developed to make tourist attractions as well as conventional centres, among other things. The first step towards that is to bring the report out in the public domain,” he said.
Hindustan Times has been reporting the process of making the port land more accessible for the city at large since July 2014. The report had recommended how around 1,000 acres of the total nearly 1,800 acres of land, can be freed up and amenities planned.
Vice admiral (Retd) IC Rao, who has been campaigning for the port trust to be made accessible for citizens and has even filed a petition with banker-turned-politician Meera Sanyal on shutting down the handling of coal by the MbPT, said that the report must be made available to citizens immediately.
“The report is an excellent document. When the committee was drafting the report, it had asked citizens to submit ideas for what the blueprint should look like. Hence, it is only ethical that the authorities tell the citizens what the final report looks like,” he said.
Similarly, the Mumbai Port Trust dock and general employees union, has also made the same demand. “The revamp is of crucial significance to us because it will affect our port and ultimately, the livelihoods of our workers. Now that the minister has made the announcement around housing on port lands, they must tell us about their other plans too,” said Maruti Vishwasrao, secretary of the union.