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Two opportunities Mumbai might have to bid adieu to

The future of eastern waterfront and IFSC is in limbo

mumbai Updated: Jan 28, 2019 23:31 IST
Shailesh Gaikwad
Shailesh Gaikwad
Hindustan Times
The eastern waterfront and IFSC would have transformed Mumbai significantly and provided more opportunities to the citizens. (Pic for representation:Samson Tupdal /HT File Photo)

These were the two great opportunities for Mumbai city, which were talked about with much fanfare for the past few years.

One was touted as an opportunity to provide a huge expanse of public spaces on the 28-km-long eastern waterfront by using the idle port land.

The other was related to setting up an international finance centre to attract global finance sector companies to set up shops, which would in turn boost revenue generation and job opportunities.

However, it now seems the eastern waterfront may have limited access for the Mumbaiites while the IFC or its later version — International Financial Service centre — may not see the light of the day.

Last week, a report published in HT highlighted how the city won’t get the open spaces or public spaces that were promised after the grand plan to open up the eastern waterfront plan was unveiled.

As per the plan prepared by a committee under former Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) chairperson Rani Jadhav, the city was supposed to get public spaces in the form of promenades, public parks, grounds for sports-related activities, entertainment zones and mass transport corridors.

In fact, the plan provided an opportunity that was lost by the city and state, when the land under defunct textile mills in central Mumbai was opened for commercial development.

Successive governments ignored the suggestions in the Charles Correa-led committee report for planned development of the mill land with adequate space for infrastructure and public spaces.

As such, central Mumbai today has become a mess with a large number of commercial and residential skyscrapers coming up amid narrow congested roads and crowded lanes.

The Jadhav committee plan focused on keeping maximum idle port land open and use it for the city while the draft of the master plan the MbPT has prepared now has enough room to allow more commercial use.

This could become another mill land-type fiasco on the 933 hectares of land along the city’s 28-km eastern coast between Colaba and Wadala.

As the authorities are planning to turn the port land into another commercial hub, a move to develop the finance hub at BKC is going in the opposite direction.

For more than a decade, Mumbai has been dreaming of the IFC.

Although the project was mooted during the tenure of Congress-NCP state government, the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre was not interested in pushing it.

Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP government that took over in 2014 decided to turn the IFC into a reality. In 2015, Fadnavis government announced setting up of the IFC, which later became IFSC, at Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC).

A task force was appointed under then Union minister of state for finance Jayant Sinha and was co-chaired by north-central Mumbai MP Poonam Mahajan. Unfortunately, the Centre again seemed reluctant. This time it was the NDA government.

According to Maharashtra government officials, the plan hit a wall since the Centre wanted the IFC at Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT) that is coming up near Ahmedabad.

The IFSC project suffered another jolt after the Centre forced the Maharashtra government to part with a portion of land earmarked to be handed over for the bullet train project.

Now, there has been a question mark over the fate of IFSC or even Fadnavis’ new idea of a Fintech Hub. Mumbaiites were hoping that the NDA government would give Mumbai, what was denied by the UPA government.

The eastern waterfront and IFSC would have transformed Mumbai significantly and provided more opportunities to the citizens. As of now, the fate of both the projects is in limbo.

First Published: Jan 28, 2019 23:31 IST