Pointing out that the Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) is the biggest landlord in the city, Union Minister for Shipping, Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari, has revealed plans for a dream project, to develop a new eastern waterfront in the city, including a structure taller than Dubai’s iconic 163-floor Burj Khalifa and a green boulevard that is bigger than Mumbai’s Marine Drive. Gadkari, who sees the MbPT as the ‘richest landlord’ of the city, wants to give a makeover to its huge swathes of industrial wasteland.
“In Mumbai, we are the number one landlord. The iconic Taj Hotel, the Ballard Estate and the Reliance building – we (MbPT) are the owners. There are beautiful plans to develop the huge land with the port,” Gadkari said. The plans are ready and we are awaiting the centre’s nod, the minister added. “We are not giving our land to builders and investors. We have plans to develop the area. We are making a green, smart road, three times bigger than the Marine Drive. We are also planning a historic landmark, bigger than Burj Khalifa. The plan is ready, we are waiting for the approval from the Cabinet,” Gadkari said.
MbPT, which was earlier called the Bombay Port Trust, is one of the largest public land holders in Mumbai and has been operating the port since 1873. It is one of the top 12 major ports in the country. “About 500 hectares is proposed to be developed, with a mix of port operations, businesses, offices, commercial, retail, entertainment, community projects, convention centres, etc.,” a top official said. A key feature of the plan is a 7-km-long marine drive between Mazagaon Dock and Wadala, much bigger than the existing Marine Drive. The proposed projects also include creation of spaces for community recreation and engagement, a maritime museum, marinas, etc.
Government’s plans for port lands in India
Mumbai Port has already invited global tenders from consulting firms, for the master plan and infrastructure design of the port. The centre had earlier set up a committee, under the chairmanship of R Jadhav, for preparing a roadmap for development of the port’s waterfront and land, which has already been submitted to the Ministry of Shipping.
Gadkari said the Shipping Ministry has plans to develop other ports too. “We are planning to develop the Kolkata Port. We are also making a smart city at Kandla Port,” he said. The minister said there is no paucity of resources or land, as there is ‘one lakh hectares of land’ among the various ports, and the government has already announced the ambitious Rs 14 lakh crore Sagarmala project, for port-led development of the country. Major ports in India have 2.64 lakh acres of land between them. A blueprint for utilisation of land available with 12 major ports is underway, while consultants are also in the process of submitting a report on how to utilise 1.98 lakh acres of submerged land with ports. India’s 12 major ports handle approximately 61 per cent of the country’s total cargo traffic.
The potential for port land development
The roadmap for port land assumes significance, given a CAG report, which observed that major ports had failed to utilise close to half of the total land under their possession. “Land measuring 22,949.82 acres was identified for future activities by ports, while 13,045.56 acres were yet to be earmarked for any future activity,” the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) had said in a report. According to the audit report on ‘Land Management in Major Ports’, out of the total land holding of 77,191.14 acres, title deeds were not available for 34,943.41 acres, representing 45.27 per cent of the total land portfolio.
The 12 major ports in India are Kandla, Mumbai, JNPT, Marmugao, New Mangalore, Cochin, Chennai, Ennore, VO Chidambarnar, Visakhapatnam, Paradip and Kolkata (including Haldia). The cabinet, in 2016, had approved a policy for award of waterfront and associated land to port-dependent industries in major ports.