The Mumbai Port Trust has been working on a plan to revamp the eastern seafront of the Maximum city, and that plan is near completion. More importantly, the new plan will see Mumbai’s long-neglected eastern coastline get its own Marine Drive, and this time it is going to be 7 kilometres long. The Port Trust’s master plan is aimed at making the eastern seafront more attractive, and the proposed Marine Drive will be located in the middle of Wadala and the Mazagaon Docks. With its proposed length, this second Marine Drive will be nearly twice the length of the 3.6-kilometre Queen’s Necklace.
If everything goes according to plan, the trust will likely issue a request for proposals in a year. The planned Marine Drive would take up to 6 years to be built. But given that rarely anything related to Mumbai’s civic plans ever run on time, it is hard to say when or even if the city will get ultimately get the new Marine Drive. For now, the port trust and its chairman, Sanjay Bhatia, seem pretty optimistic about the plan. Apart from the highly ambitious Marine Drive 2.0, the trust’s master plan also includes a ropeway connection between the Haji Bunder port terminal in Sewri with Mumbai’s popular Elephanta Caves. So far, those looking to explore the caves have had to travel to the island by ferry, but the ropeway service should add a new method of transport. This ropeway should also introduce electricity to the Elephanta island for the first time. ALSO READ: Mumbai now has its own 24-hour floating hotel
The port also plans to connect the Bhaucha Dhakka (Ferry Wharf) on the eastern tip of Mumbai to water transport terminals in Alibaug and Navi Mumbai. Under the plan, there would be pickup points in Wadala or Sewri for the transport services. Mr. Bhatia spoke to Mumbai Mirror about the master plan and its timeline. This plan includes an ecological garden as well, along with a marina with enough space to hold around 300 private yachts of Mumbai’s wealthy elite. Finally, there are plans to built central government offices across 15 hectares of land, bringing together the offices in a single location.
Mr. Bhatia remains unclear about the funds that would be needed for this massive, massive plan. Given that the plan itself is not yet complete, he said that it is too early for discussions regarding costs. However, he expects to utilise the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model for the new Marine Drive and ecological park projects. Funds for these will be raised through the central government offices, for which the public sector tenants will have to pay the market rate lease. There have been talks about revamping Mumbai’s languishing eastern seaboard ever since the current BJP government came into power in 2014. This seems to be the most development that has been made so far, but the plans are still far from becoming reality. ALSO READ: Top 15 pubs and restaurants in Bandra every foodie must visit
The as-of-yet unfinished plan has already been met with criticism. The NGO Conservation Action Trust’s executive trustee Debi Goenka has suggested that the land under consideration be protected as open space, with just the ecological park getting the trust’s stamp of approval. While Mr. Bhatia has suggested development work within a decade, one cannot help but be skeptical about the feasibility of this venture.
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