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Mumbai’s east coast revamp: First call of port gets 920 objections

After the hearing on February 15, draft will be sent to the Centre and state for nod

mumbai Updated: Feb 09, 2019 00:44 IST
Tanushree Venkatraman
Tanushree Venkatraman
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Mumbai eastern front,Mumbai Port Trust
MbPT is looking at developing theme-based piers in Darukhana, which includes the areas of Lakdi Bunder and Coal Bunder, where activities such as ship-breaking and coal-handling are undertaken currently. (Kunal Patil/HT file photo)

The Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) has received 920 objections to its draft proposal for revamp of the eastern waterfront. While the trust was to conclude its hearings on Friday, it has asked citizens, who could not attend the hearings, but have sent objections, to present their side on February 15 at its Ballard Estate office.

MbPT’s plan for the Wadala to Colaba stretch was opened for suggestions and objections in December 2018, with January 28 as the deadline. After the hearings, the report will be sent to the Maharashtra government for approval, after which it will be sent to the Centre for its final nod.

Earlier this week, HT carried a series highlighting how citizens may not have many accessible open spaces along the stretch, if the authorities continue with the plan in its current form. It stressed the need for providing adequate space to the city by way of promenades, gardens, playgrounds and spaces for art and cultural activities as recommended in the report on utilising the idle land of the port prepared by a committee under former MbPT chairperson Rani Jadhav. Several recommendations in the report have been ignored in the draft development plan prepared by the MbPT.

Although the plan is for 966.3-ha of land, in an interview to HT on Thursday, MbPT chairman Sanjay Bhatia said they were looking at developing only 282.57ha, of which 69.64ha will be for commercial development.

Of the citizen groups HT spoke to on Friday, most have raised concerns over the provision for public spaces, need to reclaim land to create open spaces, infrastructure needs and the rehabilitation of people living in these areas.

Darryl D’Monte, an activist and member of the Carter Road Residents’ Association, said, “There seems to be more focus on commercial development with public spaces being short-changed. The port trust could have used the one-third formula, which was previously envisaged for mill land development [one part for sale, one for open spaces and the other for affordable housing], but never implemented.”

The trust has suggested reclaiming 93ha near Haji Bunder to create a new park that will be larger than London’s Hyde Park. The plan has, however, been opposed by citizens across Mumbai. “Our biggest objection is to the reclamation. The city needs more open spaces on the existing land,” said Vidya Vaidya, a member of the H/West (Bandra) Federation.

Subhash Motwani, from the Clean Heritage Colaba Residents’ Association, said, “It seems to be a promising plan, but we need clarity on the infrastructure that will be built to support it. It should not be like the rest of the city, where you can get a fancy building, but the roads and surrounding areas are in bad shape.”

Vipul Bondal, who has lived in Wadala for 48 years and is a member of the Wadala East Residents’ Association, said the plan needs to be implemented on time, unlike other projects in the city. “Wadala has been under-utilised all these years because of the decline in port activities. While the plan might make it vibrant as it used to be, it needs to be implemented in a time-bound manner.”

Bhatia had said on Thursday that reclamation is subject to approval from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. He also said the plan can be dropped if citizens object to it.

Trading associations on MbPT land have demanded they should be rehabilitated in nearby areas. Laxman Bansal, general secretary of the Darukhana Iron, Steel and Scrap Merchants’ Association, said, “We want a place which is nearby and accessible and that has to be specified to us in a written format.”

The association had also called for a meeting of all stakeholders on February 2 to discuss the way forward. MbPT is looking at developing theme-based piers in Darukhana, which includes the areas of Lakdi Bunder and Coal Bunder, where activities such as ship-breaking and coal-handling are undertaken currently.

First Published: Feb 09, 2019 00:44 IST