The land-starved city may have just got a breather.
Mumbai’s biggest landowner, the Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) that owns more than 1,800 acres—as big as 30 Nariman Points—has made a U-turn from its earlier stand and has agreed to give its excess land for the city’s development.
Union Minister for Shipping, G.K. Vasan, on Tuesday announced that the MbPT will locate extra land that can be used in Mumbai’s interest.
The state and the MbPT have been locked in a bitter tussle over the sharing of extra port land. “We are not going to be rigid, we are not saying we will not share an inch of our land,” MbPT chairman, Rahul Asthana, told Hindustan Times. “We are willing to sit down with the state government and, without handing over ownership of land, use excess land or isolated land parcels we don’t use for city projects.’’
The city may finally get much needed space for setting up the International Finance Centre, transport projects to connect south Mumbai with the northern suburbs or a promenade along the eastern waterway.
The port trust also gave its nod for a passenger terminal at the New Ferry wharf in Mazagaon. This was crucial for starting inland water transport on eastern seafront.
Asthana told HT that this would be an offshore passenger terminal and the state’s proposed inland passenger ferry service from Mazagaon to Navi Mumbai can start.
The MbPT will study its land use and identify excess land after considering the port’s future requirements.
Vasan told journalists that the coordination committee, with the Union shipping secretary as chairman and state chief secretary as co-chairman, will meet and decide on the development of additional land. The committee was set up two years ago, but has reached no consensus.
“This is a blessing for a city starved for open spaces,” said historian Sharada Dwivedi, a member of the Mumbai Docklands Redevelopment Forum (MDRF). “It’s an encouraging trend because this means they are listening to people’s voices.”
MDRF, a group of planners and architects, had been opposing development at MbPT and demanding public space.
Vasan said the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust will be declared a green port.