In space-starved Mumbai, docklands provide room for a view

Tue Nov 18, 2014 3:08am EST
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By Tommy Wilkes

MUMBAI (Reuters) - The redevelopment of Mumbai's mostly derelict docklands will, if a government appointed panel has its way, create a waterfront where people living in the world's second most densely-populated city can go to lift their spirits, and the rich can go to play.

"This is a real opportunity to give Mumbai what it doesn't have, to give it open space," said Narinder Nayar, a businessman who sits on the panel, whose recommendations will be unveiled this week.

Owned by Mumbai Port Trust, the largest landowner in India's financial hub, much of the 7 square kilometers (2.7 square miles) up for redevelopment is occupied today by crumbling warehouses, informal housing and workers who eke out a living breaking down disused ships or sorting through scrap metal.

The government, which has valued the land at $12 billion, is pitching the project as a shining example of what urban regeneration in India should look like: transport minister Nitin Gadkari wants a giant ferris wheel similar to the London Eye.

"We should be looking towards the examples of New York, London, Sydney...Barcelona as well, to see what can be done with our former industrial areas on the waterfront," Nayar said.

Whereas as Mumbai's western shoreline looks out to the Arabian Sea, this land is located on the protected eastern side of the city's southern tip, affording a view across the harbor to the mainland, where a new deep-sea container port is based.

Nair says the panel will recommend that about 30 percent of the land be opened as public space, and the construction of a hospital and affordable housing, linked by new train lines.

There are plans for a floating hotel and convention center too, and a tender is already out to build a luxury marina to cater for the city's super-rich.   Continued...

Decommissioned Indian Navy Ship INS Vikrant is pictured at a ship breaking yard in Mumbai November 17, 2014.  REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade