In the 1890s, Wadala, with its large tracts of open land and sprawling greenery, was chosen by the British as the next growth centre of Bombay (as it was known then).
With the city then reeling from a plague epidemic, many felt that development in Wadala would help decongest the commercial areas.
More than 100 years later, Wadala is once again being looked upon as the answer to Mumbai’s space problems.
It is being groomed as the city’s newest upmarket address and ‘growth centre’.
The state hopes to take the load off the congested areas and spread the population more evenly by developing Wadala as a commercial-cum-realty centre, providing it with good transportation and connectivity.
The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) is keen on developing such growth centres across the city.
“The only way to take the load off the infrastructure is to distribute growth centres across the city. Wadala, with its location, is ideally suited to become a growth centre like Bandra-Kurla Complex,” said Metropolitan Commissioner Ratnakar Gaikwad.
Wadala, which for years was better known for theatre, is already under the limelight for the huge realty deals being struck there.
MMRDA woke up to its potential when a plot it owned was bought in May by the Lodha Group of builders for Rs 4,050 crore.
An MMRDA think-tank recently said that the agency could generate Rs 1,000 crore annually through growth centres such as Wadala.
This hardened MMRDA’s resolve. It is now contemplating Metro connectivity for the area.
“One of the nine corridors in the pipeline is the Ghatkopar-Mulund line. We could extend it up to Wadala,” Gaikwad said.
MMRDA officials believe that the development of a transport network connecting Wadala to the rest of Mumbai will play a huge role in ensuring the area’s transformation as a business hub.
MMRDA has launched several projects to improve connectivity.
It is constructing a monorail along the Chembur-Wadala-Jacob Circle route and is working on the Eastern Freeway, which will connect
Wadala with south Mumbai and Ghatkopar.
The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority, which was planning an Inter-State Bus and Truck Terminal on 4.5 hectares at Wadala, is now thinking of shifting the terminus outside the city and using the land for commercial purposes.
“It makes sense, given the price we got for our plot,” a senior regional authority official said on condition of anonymity.