Mumbai’s eastern waterfront project plan gets a fillip

  • Kunal Purohit, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Apr 15, 2016 01:26 IST

It’s a bittersweet development: the Union Shipping Ministry has set the ball rolling to create public amenities on the city’s eastern waterfront, but your role in how it shapes up may be limited for now.

The Union shipping ministry has asked the Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) to make an action plan to open up surplus land in the port area for the city’s benefit, shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari said on the sidelines of the Maritime India Summit. This comes just a month after Gadkari said slums on the port land will be resettled, and on the land freed up, amenities will be created for the city.

But, in what could be a major disappointment for citizens, Gadkari has done an about-turn on making public a crucial report by a government-appointed panel on how the port land can be developed. Responding to a question by Hindustan Times, Gadkari said the report won’t be made public right now.

The report of a panel headed by former MbPT chairman Rani Jadhav and consisting urban planners, architects and government officials details a blueprint of how nearly 1,000 of the total 1,800 acres of MbPT land can be opened up for public amenities such as green spaces, walkways and a waterfront, among other things. The panel had asked citizens for suggestions before submitting its report to Gadkari in December 2014.

Gadkari has since repeatedly assured citizens he would make the report public. On Thursday, however, the minister wasn’t as emphatic.

“I have got the report. But we have decided that based on its recommendations , the MbPT must prepare an action plan and submit it to the Cabinet for approval. Once the Cabinet approves, the plan will be implemented,” Gadkari said. The newly appointed MbPT chairman Sanjay Bhatia has been assigned responsibility of creating the action plan, Gadkari said.

“Based on the report the committee submitted, the MbPT will decide what it can do and prepare a plan on how to carry this out.”

But Gadkari did not respond to a question on why the Jadhav committee report was not being put in the public domain.

According to shipping secretary Rajive Kumar, this was a decision of the Union cabinet. “The cabinet has decided that Mumbai, Kandla and a few other ports must come up with a policy to develop their land in a holistic manner. Hence, rather than the ministry deciding what must be done, we have let the ports come up with their own policies,” he told Hindustan Times.

A member of the Jadhav committee, however, said Gadkari’s refusal to make the report public was unfortunate. “Before we started work on the report, we asked people to send their suggestions. Now that we have completed the report, how can we not tell people what we have done with their suggestions?”

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