Mumbai port proposes real estate plan
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Mumbai: State-run Mumbai Port Trust has proposed an ambitious real estate development plan for its 1,800 acres of land as a way to revive the fortunes of the 142-year-old ailing port.
Speaking at the 142nd foundation day of Mumbai Port, shipping minister Nitin Gadkari said that a committee has been set up under Rani Jadhav, a former chairperson of the Mumbai Port Trust, to suggest ways to monetize its nearly 1,800 acres.
“We have asked the panel to submit its report in next three months. Following that, we will be appointing international property consultants,” Gadkari said, adding that the land will not be handed over to private builders. The estimated value of port trust’s estate is Rs.75,000 crore, the minister said.
Upon receiving the Jadhav committee report, the government will float an international bidding and award the development project on a BOT (build, operate, transfer) basis, he said.
Mumbai port—once considered the premier harbour of the country—has nearly one-third of the total employees across all 13 major ports of India, but handles only 10% of total traffic of these ports. In contrast, the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, or JNPT—a port that was commissioned on 26 May 1989 to decongest Mumbai port near Nhava Sheva island— now handles nearly 55% of the total container traffic.
Mumbai port is also the largest real estate owner in Mumbai, but various approvals and controversies have prevented any monetizing the land. The port earns only about Rs.200 crore a year from the land.
Under the proposed real estate development plan, Gadkari said, the port has plans to build cruise terminals, new waterway projects, a 500-room floating hotel to be anchored off the Raj Bhavan coast, three-four floating restaurants, a ferris wheel on the lines of the London Eye, and marinas and jetties to promote water transport in Mumbai.
“A lot of land on the eastern waterfront is used for low-value economic activities like warehousing among others. But if it is commercially exploited, it can attract lot of high end real estate development such as malls, office complexes, residential apartments,” said Anuj Puri, chairman and country head property consultancy Jones Lang LaSalle India.
Puri, however, added that the government must offer a long-term lease on the plots of land to attract serious bidders.
Not everyone is supporting the plan.
“The real question is whether government wants to use land for offering open spaces and green cover to the city or exploit commercially for benefit of few, and we will come to know about that after the committee announced by the minister submits its report,” said Debi Goenka, an environmental activist and trustee of Conservation Action Trust.