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Port Trust report on dockland yet to be made public

The ministry has asked the committee to tweak the report further to include its suggestions.

Written by Shalini Nair | Mumbai |
February 23, 2015 3:01:02 am

Over a month after the land development committee of the Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) submitted its report to the union shipping ministry — on opening up much of the 1800 acres of dockland — the latter is yet to make it public despite the committee’s recommendation that it be put in the public domain.

In December last year, the committee headed by former MbPT chairperson Rani Jadhav had presented its final report, on integrating the defunct Port Trust land along Mumbai’s 28-km-long eastern coastline with the rest of the city, to Union Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari. The minister was to release the report at an event in Mumbai, following which, according to the panel’s suggestions, feedback was to be invited from the public. Jadhav, who heads the panel, refused to comment on the delay on the ministry’s part to release the report. “The committee’s role is over as it has submitted the report for which it was constituted,” she said. Union shipping secretary Rajive Kumar told Newsline, “We are yet to formally receive the report from the committee. Only after they submit it officially can we act on it.”

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Sources said the ministry has asked the committee to tweak the report further to include its suggestions on making the shipping ministry in charge of the project instead of a special planning authority. The panel had suggested that an independent authority, Mumbai Port Land Development Authority, be constituted so as to implement the report in its entirety. This would be along the same lines as the London Docklands Development Corporation, Merseyside Development Corporation in Liverpool, the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation in Wales and Rotterdam City Development Corporation in Netherlands, among others.

“The committee was strongly of the view that the development of port land should come under a separate authority with participation from the central ministry, state government and the Port Trust,” said panel member Narinder Nayar, chairman of Mumbai First. Nayar added that the ministry had more than once fixed a date for releasing the report, only to call it off each time.

Vice Admiral (Retd) I C Rao, who is part of APLI Mumbai, a citizens’ initiative for reviving port-lands, said the transparency that was observed during the time the report was being prepared by the committee is lacking now that the report is with the ministry. “Even the bureaucrats in the ministry seem to be unaware of its contents of the report,” he said. The panel has, in its report, centered on the theme, ‘Open, Connected and Green’, recommended ways of integrating defunct port land for augmenting Mumbai’s green open spaces, creating new mass transit modes and promoting recreational and employment activities.

Port Trust chairman RM Parmar said, “There might be some inconsistencies in the report which the ministry might want rectified.” The Port Trust is still undecided on a suitable policy for rehabilitating lakhs of slum-dwellers who have, over the years, occupied the vacant lands. The panel had suggested that the ministry formulate a policy that rehabilitates all existing slum dwellers, but should refrain from adopting the state’s SRA model of leveraging public land to private developers in return for free housing. “As this is central government land, any policy we come up with will set a pan-India precedent for all such lands. Slum rehabilitation is the responsibility of the local government and it can’t be any different in Mumbai’s case,” said Parmar.

shalini.nair@expressindia.com

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