Mumbai’s Ports


Global technological advances and economic changes lead to re imagining Mumbai’s Port as far back as the early 1980s. Since then, various governments have attempted to take forward visions of redevelopment. In June 2014, the Ministry of Shipping constituted the Mumbai Port Land Development Committee to prepare a road map for the development of the port lands and its waterfront. Since then, re imagining the 709 hectares along the city’s 14 km eastern coast have drawn a host of voices – each articulating a certain perspective. The ‘redevelopment’ of Mumbai’s expansive port land is seen as the one chance the city has to re invent itself in the constellation of global cities.

At the moment information about the proposed project can be drawn from news clips and articles. Proposed developments include:

  1. consolidating port activities to a 500 acre plot to the south of Mazagaon Dock
  2. freeing up 1300 acres to create – new mass transit corridors (enhance east-west connectivity and develop metro lines) 400 acres of green open spaces
  3. 300 acre entertainment zone
  4. giant ferris wheel on the lines of London Eye
  5. 500-room floating hotel
  6. Floating restaurants, food courts, special trade zone
  7. World-class cruise terminal, marinas, intra-city waterways projects and three 100 storey buildings among others

Mumbai’s port is owned by the Mumbai Port Trust, an autonomous corporation wholly owned by the Government of India. Its land is leased to the navy, corporate houses, fishing villages (Koliwadas), derelict industries and housing colonies among others. Being public land, it ought to be developed in the larger public interest. Any development that is not in the interest of the majority would be violative of the constitutional restraint on the Port Trust, which is an organ of the State.

The MCGM (Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai) is a planning authority that is elected and accountable to the public, and according to the 74th plans for the entire city. Currently, the Mumbai Development Plan (2014-34) is being revised by the MCGM. This Plan defines land use in the city for the next 20 years. The MCGM has repeatedly cited the lack of land for public amenities in the Development Plan. In this context, a large isolated development on 709 acres in the city (by a Special Planning Authority) will create a strain on infrastructure that is planned for by the Municipal Corporation. Any large scale development will increase road traffic, water to be supplied, sewerage and garbage generated. Given that the Port land – a very valuable resource to the city – is being opened up for development, considerations should be made, keeping in the real needs of the people of Mumbai.

Much of the port and surrounding areas have developing owing to the natural growth of the city and its needs. The redevelopment of port is thus not just about developing tourist attractions, marinas, floating hotels, promenades and new transport routes but taking into question the existing situation on the port, basic concerns of workers and residents and integrating it with the rest of the city. The port has over nearly two centuries generated livelihood for a vast majority.

Over the last 30 years the informalization of labour has meant scores of informal workers earning through ancillary industries of the port. What does port redevelopment mean for them? What does it mean for the 12000 port employees? What do floating hotels and marinas mean for Kolis for who water currents and access to the sea is of prime concern? What does housing mean for those living in informal settlements on the port land?

Through Voices of Mumbai Port, we attempt to highlight local concerns of people and larger structural issues – issues of gentrification in the island city, land ownership and planning authorities, legal and environmental concerns. The video section attempts to capture these voices – what do elected representatives, citizens, activists, academicians and those directly affected by port redevelopment have to say. The photographs section through a series of photo essays attempts to look into the realities on the port and provide a situational glimpse into what exists on parts of the port land.

The documentation section provides reports, articles and news clips. It provides information on various events and facts that have not been reported and often overlooked in mainstream debates on port redevelopment.