Re-Generating Mumbai’s Port Land
The Mumbai Port land, believed to be one-eighth of the total area of Mumbai consists of a 28 Km, 1800 acre stretch of Mumbai’s eastern waterfront from Wadala to Colaba. According to reports, out of the total 1800 acres, about 1000 acres land in Mumbai Port is either misused or non operational. The land-holding of the Mumbai Port Trust totals 734 hectares. Less than half this area is currently in use for Port operations and residential buildings. The remaining area, approximately 400 hectares or about 1,000 acres, is a wasted and misused space. Shouldn’t these be encashed upon?
Mumbai city suffers a critical shortage of space for housing, essential public utilities and open spaces rendering the city unlivable. The various bodies responsible for the development and upkeep of the city are trying to come out with one solution or the other. The latest solution in the series is proposed by BMC to introduce Floor Space Index (FSI) of 8. This may sound like the ultimate answer to Mumbaikars' space problem but experts feel that it is not without inherent difficulties. There seems to be a solution staring right at us in the form of Port land on the eastern side of the city.
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi pushing for smart cities, the union government has realized the importance in the form of Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari forming a committee to suggest redevelopment of Mumbai Port land. The Mumbai Port land consists of the 28 Km, 1800 acre stretch of Mumbai's eastern waterfront from Wadala to Colaba. According to reports out of the total 1800 acres about 1000 acres land in Mumbai Port is either misused or non operational. The land-holding of the Mumbai Port Trust totals 734 hectares. Less than half this area is currently in use for Port operations and residential buildings. The remaining area, approximately 400 hectares or about 1,000 acres, is a wasted and misused space, with abandoned and derelict warehouses; coal-dumping, loading and transportation that causes dangerous pollution of the air and ground-water; ship-breaking activities that release hazardous pollutants into the atmosphere and many other toxic and undesirable activities states the report by Urban planning committee and Columbia University.
In 1980, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had committed that once the port of Nhava Sheva was commissioned, the Port land would be made available to the citizens of Mumbai. Though this was reinforced by a Government of India directive dated 16thSeptember 1988, it was not implemented. The large tracts of the land became decrepit and abandoned. Now the Union Shipping Ministry has declared that the Port land would be redeveloped and invited proposals from citizens to re-envision the area.
Young architects and urban planners from Mumbai and Columbia University together worked on the planning and showcased ideas such as a Tourist and cultural hub at Sewri Fort, Nature Park for flamingos, Housing for PAPs at Nadkarni Park, a Portland’s University and Sports centre, Haji Bunder, Vocational training centres at Lakdi Bunder, Water sports hub at Darukhana, Ship Repair facilities at Princes Dock, and a Marina inside Victoria Dock, to name a few.
Several great port cities around the world have successfully undertaken urban regeneration of derelict dock and port areas. The result: a boost in the GDP not just of the cities but of the countries. Some examples are the Docklands in London, and the Brooklyn Piers and Navy Yard in New York.
Industry bodies like Indian Merchants’ Chamber (IMC) are also coming forward to participate in the revival plan. According to Prabodh Thakker, President IMC, “Mumbai today is a difficult place to live in, work in and invest in. While leadership, governance, laws, regulatory frameworks and institutions need to be strengthened for this to change; none of them can resolve the issue of critical shortage of space for essential public utilities.”
“With projections of Mumbai’s population to be over 30 million by 2030, the redevelopment plan of the city’s Port Lands not only offers the city much needed open public space but also perhaps the last opportunity to redevelop and revive itself,” he says.
Meera Sanyal, Chairperson of IMC's Urban Development Committee which is working alongside various citizen forums like A Port land Initiate (APLI) says that the redevelopment of Mumbai’s Port Lands is a great opportunity for Mumbai to regain its place as the entrepreneurial and commercial heart of India.
“We have been working closely with citizens and young architects, urban planners both in Mumbai and at Columbia to envision a realistic plan to revitalize the non-operational lands within the Mumbai Port trust,” she says.
Prof. Geeta Mehta, Professor of Architecture and Urban Design at GSAPP and Adviser at the Earth Institute of Columbia University says, “Mumbai can be a SMART city with good East West connectivity, universally accessible pathways, well-constructed cycle-tracks and efficient use of water transportation.”
She says, “the need for investment and development of social hubs, sustainable environments, integrated mobility and creation of holistic societies for good quality living.”
In 1980, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had committed that once the port of Nhava Sheva was commissioned, the Port land would be made available to the citizens of Mumbai. Though this was reinforced by a Government of India directive dated 16thSeptember 1988, it was not implemented.
“Mumbai today is a difficult place to live in, work in and invest in. While leadership, governance, laws, regulatory frameworks and institutions need to be strengthened for this to change; none of them can resolve the issue of critical shortage of space for essential public utilities. With projections of Mumbai’s population to be over 30 million by 2030, the redevelopment plan of the city’s Port Lands not only offers the city much needed open public space but also perhaps the last opportunity to redevelop and revive itself...
- Prabodh Thakker, President IMC
THE CITY SPEAKS:
We put across the idea to the participants of change from the society like experts and developers ...and all of them have welcomed the idea:-
Prima facie, it is a good opportunity on various counts. Part of the freed port land could be given to government agencies like MHADA to create genuinely affordable housing stock of units with ticket sizes less than Rs. 25 lakh. These areas would have a higher FSI as per the recently proposed FSI guidelines, so there is considerable scope for such budget homes which could rehouse the people living in dilapidated buildings in the town side. This land can also be used to create more open spaces for the city to accommodate leisure activity centers and features to encourage tourism in the city. Part of the land should be used for commercial purposes by creation of a mini-CBD to act as a retail and hotels district. The revenue generated from this commercial segment could then be used to cross-subsidize other projects within the port land area.
-Subhankar Mitra, Head,
Strategic Consulting (West) JLL India
Mumbai city lacks open spaces and with the freeing of the port land along the eastern waterfront will result in newer areas for leisure and recreation. It can also ease the congestion using the waterfront for setting up passenger service. Secondly, the eastern freeway can be extended up to Colaba using the port land further easing the traffic moving in eastern corridor.
Reviving the port lands could be this congested island city’s best bet for affordable housing, transport links and public space. The Center has shown intent to open up large, unused parcels of prime land held by the Mumbai Port Trust, a longstanding demand of planners who believe the land if used productively would change the very landscape of the city. We can have affordable housing, a marina, a seaport, a convention center.
-Gaurav Gupta, Director,
Omkar Realtors & Developers
The Indian Government’s decision to free MbPT’s 1000 acres of land is a very bold and positive move. This would change the face of Mumbai and would turn to be the biggest factor in the development of the city. A lot of land is currently lying idle and can be put to better use like commercial developments such as Malls, hotels and offices and also other real estate developments like schools, hospitals and for residential purposes. Also plans like floating hotel, floating restaurants & water transport would attract tourists in the city. The development plan would also give a boost to the employment opportunities for the city’s young and dynamic professionals.
—Rajesh Prajapati - MD, Prajapati Constructions
The Maharashtra government wants to unlock the land mass spread between Colaba to Navi Mumbai, which is believed to be one-eighth of the total area of Mumbai. With this expansion plans, the city can have Mumbai offshore container terminal along with international cruise terminal complete with marina and a seaport, convention center. The port land will be used for construction of convention center, parks, setting up passenger service terminals and marina for all anchoring private yachts. There is talk of building flyovers and coastal roads to decongest traffic hues across the city. Basically, the focus of the state government has been around building large infrastructure projects to sparkle the city as a thriving financial hub.
We can have affordable housing along the available land parcel to add on housing stock in the city as 50% of Mumbai’s population lives in slums. The possibilities are limitless. The first thing we need to do is to draw up an economic plan for fast tracking top infra projects to remove bottlenecks in their way.
—Niranjan Hiranandani, CMD,
OTHER BIG PROJECTS
Some important infrastructure developments which we will see ahead are:
Water Transport: The Government is proposing to start Mumbai’s first water bus service from JNPT, a move that will push more tourism activities in ports. Plans are also to start marinas and jetties to promote intra-city water transport in Mumbai.
Sewri Nhava Sheva Trans Harbour Link (MTHL): Development of Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (Road and Rail) aims to augment the capacity of arterials linking Greater Mumbai to the rest of the MMR. This link would connect Sewri on the Island city side to Nhava Sheva. The project consists of construction of a 6-lane bridge across the deep sea through the Mumbai Harbour. The total length of the link will be 22 km. This infrastructure development will improve the connectivity of South of Mumbai with Navi Mumbai.
Real estate development along this alignment, as well as in the locations in the vicinity (like Ulwe, areas towards south of Navi Mumbai) are expected to benefit with this development. With the work on the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL) or the Sewree-Uran sea link expected to commence soon, there is an enormous interest being generated by home buyers and industry alike. This is due to the heightened infra development taking place, coupled with employment generation and housing demand needs expected to spiral in the near future. These infra projects will have a positive impact on affordable housing segment as it will bring connectivity between Mumbai and Uran and spur economic activity.
SEZ & Port Connectivity Highway: Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of the Rs 4,000 crore port-based multi-products SEZ and the Rs 1,900 crore Port Connectivity Highway Project at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust.