Independent body for port revamp?

  • Kunal Purohit, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Dec 08, 2014 00:59 IST

Resisting pressure from various quarters, the Centre-appointed land development committee will stick to its plan of recommending a body with executive powers to helm the project to develop the city’s port land.

The recommendation forms a crucial part of the report the panel is slated to submit to the ministry of shipping this week.

The panel’s decision — despite many insisting that the new authority must be subservient to the Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) — will have far-reaching consequences on the development work, as it will have all the power to overhaul the port trust land.

“We know that Mumbai suffers from multiplicity of authorities and we don’t see the sense in having one more, without giving it any powers. Keeping it under the MbPT would also mean there is a chance of diluting the core agenda of this authority, which is to open up land and make it accessible for the city,” said a panel member.

Former MbPT chairman Rani Jadhav-headed committee had been planning an independent, autonomous body to carry out an overhaul of the port land.
It was on the lines of London’s Docklands Development Corporation, a body that successfully overhauled the defunct port lands there.

Former shipping secretary Dr Vishwapati Trivedi had earlier told Hindustan Times how he preferred the agency to be an authority independent of the MbPT.
The consideration had, however, come under fire from various elements, including sections of the shipping ministry and the MbPT.

The critics had said the new authority must function under the MbPT, through a board of trustees. However, the committee said this will weaken the new authority and take away its powers.

The MbPT had then asked for legal opinion from the attorney general on the issue of legal complications arising out of having an independent body. However, such an opinion could not come through as specific details of the lease agreements with tenants were sought.

However, those who oppose it claim that keeping the new authority under MbPT would make legal sense.

“We need to acquire land for the project to take off, and there will be legal complications in handing over the land to a completely autonomous body,” said an MbPT official.

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