Can land be reclaimed from the sea to revitalise space-crunched Mumbai in the coming 25 to 35 years?
Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, doesn’t think so. On Friday, Chavan who sat through a presentation of the ‘concept plan’ of Mumbai, made by Singapore-based consultant Surbana International, got state officials on a realistic plane, by pointing out that reclamation plan for the city was not feasible given India’s environment laws.
“The chief minister pointed out that in our country, given our strict environment laws and democratic set up where everyone’s opinion is taken into consideration, it will not be easy to undertake reclamation on the lines of other international cities,’’ said a senior bureaucrat present at the meeting.
The concept plan for the city will outline how the city will look like in the coming 25 and 35 years — 2032 and 2052 respectively. The international consultants have been asked to draft a plan that highlights how the city should grow spatially, vertically to ensure the optimum best for city and its vast hinterland.
The consultants had suggested that given Mumbai’s land crunch, it would be best to reclaim land to allow more land for development, housing requirements, etc. The consultants had suggested substantial reclamation (a couple of hundred hectares) off Versova, Nariman Point and Uran for this and had given examples of various cities such as Tokyo, Dubai, which had done the same. Senior officials in the state secretariat were keen on this option and had opined that reclamation done ‘scientifically’ without affecting coastal ecology would be the best option for Mumbai.
With Chavan not keen on reclamation option, the consultants will have to begin afresh. “The chief minister hasn’t ruled out anything. This is not the final plan and the final plan will be submitted looking at our legal framework,” said another bureaucrat, on condition of anonymity.
The other options for growth suggested in the plan include setting up of five central business districts in the MMR to decongest city besides creation of a land bank by connecting city with Navi Mumbai.
The concept plan has also recommended that Floor Space Index in the city should be decided on the basis of its proximity to transit corridors and business districts. The final concept plan will be ready by July and will be put up in public domain for discussion.