Research Projects

A VISION PLAN FOR MUMBAI'S EASTERN WATERFRONT

slow start and it was extremely difficult to initiate a dialogue between the various agencies. The levels of suspicion and interest were so disparate that calling meetings became a completely impossible task. Fortunately, the sub-group set up for the port by the state government under the aegis of 'vision Mumbai', with Sanjay Ubale as the secretary (special projects) gave great impetus to the functioning of the task force. Jnpt chairman Mr. R. Buddhiraja chaired presentations and discussions and these suggested that if this link between the specific task force for Mumbai’s eastern waterfront and the larger processes of planning for Mumbai could be meaningfully established, then the port, greater Mumbai and the metropolitan region would benefit tremendously. To further its commitment to this process, the MMRDA in June 2004 commissioned the UDRI to put together teams for the preparation of a vision plan for the area so that this could serve as a base document to facilitate a dialogue between the stakeholders in the region. The vision plan will look at multiple scenarios, varying from incremental processes for reordering the land to extreme visions of considering the entire strotcl1 as a tabula rasa. The intention of the exercise is to jostle in the imaginations of both the stakeholders as well as the public the potentials that exist for the port, the city and the metropolitan region. It was to support these processes and considering the crucial importance of the eastern waterfront for the city's future, that it was decided by the institutions involved in the study to make this document containing the situation analysis, accessible to the public in the form of this publication. Similarly, preceding this publication - the UDRI, KRVI design cell, PUKAR and MMB Bombay, organized a public conference to broaden public engagement with the issue (see appendix for details about the conference). The conference heightened the need for making this document accessible to the public as well as the importance of greater public engagement in the issue of how multiple spaces along the eastern waterfront can be appropriately integrated through recycling their use, over time, into the fabric of the city. That this publication does not attempt proposals for what can happen to the area but has instead been limited to an analysis of the existing resources and potentials of Mumbai’s eastern waterfront. The intention is to share with the public the potential role of the eastern waterfront in the future of Mumbai perhaps the last potential large scale planning opportunity that would transform not only the densest part of Mumbai but also reconnect the city to its regional context.


It is precisely to understand and address these issues that the UDRI together with the KRVI design cell with the support of infrastructure development finance corporation initiated this project in august 2000 to critically examine Mumbai’s eastern waterfront. The project incorporated an analysis of land use and tenure for each of the estates adjoining the eastern waterfront. An inventory of area infrastructure and built resources was also prepared, and the potential of connecting this sector of the island city to the larger metropolitan region was also studied. Archival research on the historical development of the Mumbai port and industrialisation in the region was undertaken along with the detailed mapping of the growth of informal settlements within the docklands. once these studies were completed, the institutions involved felt strongly that the study had to directly inform the process of policy making in the government, rather than be restricted to 'NGO’s activity' from the outside. This led the team to share this material with the then chief secretary of the government of Maharashtra on 17 July 2002. His reaction and commitment to setting up such a process was positive and encouraging. The chief secretary instituted a task force on 19 October 2002 (vide a government order G.R. No. TPB 4302/1732/cr-185/02/ud-11 dated 19 October 2002) with representatives of the Bombay port trust and other government agencies as well as ngos with the Mumbai metropolitan region development authority commissioner as the chairperson. The aim of the task force was to strategies the future development of the eastern waterfront such that it could benefit the port as well as the city. The task force had a  terms of the possibilities it provides for re-orienting the perception of the city and the region with regard to its own geography and physical form. The visual connection, for example from the eastern waterfront could go a long way in the public's imagination and weave the Navi Mumbai area (which otherwise seems distant and remote) into what the citizens perceive as the metropolitan area. Similarly, the potential for connectivity using water transportation could transform the way mobility within the region is perceived and organized. while the role that the eastern waterfront could play in connecting the city back to the metropolitan hinterland seems clear and achievable in a planner's imagination, on the ground this stretch of land is perhaps the most contested piece of urban land in the region. Besides the multiple actors who have come to occupy this space (in spite of mbpt being the singular custodian of a large area), illegal encroachments and the mbpt's fragmented vision about its development potential fracture the land into many segments, thereby defeating a cohesive urban vision. The operating authority, of course, proposes an expansion of-existing facility - the re-establishment of Mumbai as the premier port, while Mumbai’s citizens view this with scepticism and would like to see sizeable portions reinvented and transformed for public use. However the lack of appropriate mechanisms of the state to intervene further broadens the schism of such large scale planned interventions and piecemeal incremental transformation. And ironically, were the mbpt to see this potential and work in partnership with the city, it would not only reinvent itself as a powerful development engine but also use that critical leverage to resolve its tangle of current problems (ranging from a disgruntled workforce to illegal encroachments) and transform these liabilities into assets for both itself and the city! Interestingly only 50 per cent of the mbpt area of the eastern waterfront (836 acres) is used for port activities. Infact large, seemingly underused, infrastructure and roads characterize the present landscape. Dotted with unused warehouses (often beautifully robust buildings with great reuse potential), a sense of desolation prevails in many parts of this landscape. This is offset by the encroachments by teeming populations on other parts. These represent labor pools, a virtual sea of energy and resources, creating new forms of employment in the area. The challenge therefore is how this landscape can be rearranged to synergize the different components. And what process would be most appropriate for this to happen? How do we, as a society, use this incredible resource of land, people, and infrastructure to improve the city and simultaneously safeguard the interests of the present users and occupants? Many other questions also need to be considered. There is the ecology of the region (flamingoes make this zone their home for half the year), the heritage buildings and the high potential of reusable space they offer, and the integration of heritage structures such as the Sewri fort and many other such fragments that comprise the rich fabric of the area that we are referring to as the eastern waterfront of Mumbai.
This area, totaling approximately 1800 acres (the mill lands are in contrast merely 400 acres), forms a large portion of the city. These areas, like the mill lands, are in the process of grappling with a great change as the economy of Mumbai moves into its post-industrial phase with the ever-transforming nature of the users and aspirations in the city. The eastern waterfront as defined by the study consists of the entire port lands from Sassoon dock to the thane creek bridge find to Navi Mumbai. This area comprises largely the landholdings of the Mumbai port trust, and for the study it has been divided into thirteen precincts (for a detailed break-up of the precincts, refer page 2). These land-holdings considered in the study also include land for defense and allied purposes such as the Mazgaon docks, naval docks and BARC (Bhabha Atomic Research Centre). Although the defense lands are included in the delineated area, they do not form a part of the study as they were inaccessible. In fact, the study is limited by information that is in the public domain and the ground studies have been carried out only in zones that have public access. The overall study area is bound by the harbor railway on the west, the water edge on the east, the thane creek bridge to the north, and the Sassoon dock to the south. The area covered thus includes major industrial lands like the estates of Mumbai Port, Rashtriya Chemical Fertilizers, Hpcl and Ipcl and some defense land. While the area of the study that is under the mbpt totals 1806 acres, roughly 4.5 times more than the mill lands of Mumbai city, interestingly only 6 per cent of this land is under reservation by the BMC for public uses and less than 1 per cent - actually 0.85 per cent - is for open spaces. This is particularly incredible in the light of the fact that there exists 28.0 km of virtually inaccessible waterfront along the eastern edge of Mumbai. Thus the eastern waterfront is critical not only in terms of what the city can potentially gain for public use, but in 
the specific changes in the port related activities of the eastern waterfronts have specifically become the two most important reasons for initiating the study of the area. The study is undertaken with the intention of articulating the discussions on post industrialization processes specific to Mumbai. Like other cities, European and Asian, Mumbai has lost its orientation towards its historic city centre and is developing, in the planner's imagination, into a metropolitan region. The emerging landscape has, in the process, been fragmented into numerous specialized zones spread across the metropolitan area (including the historic inner city), who’s relative importance depends on their potential connectivity. Mumbai is thus at an interesting juncture of its history where the city is negotiating simultaneously its relationship with the metropolitan region as well the many potential spaces or voids that are emerging, or could potentially emerge, within its centre. At the centre, the most interesting prospects for the city have to do with reclaiming the post-industrial landscapes in the city for public use. It is the mill lands and the vast stretch of land along the city's eastern waterfront that am emerging as the focus of this 'reclaiming' process, where multiple aspirations, needs, and conflicts are playing themselves out. In this context, the city's eastern waterfront is particularly interesting and of great relevance, on account of its position both in the geography of the city, as well as the metropolitan region. The very connection of the historic city centre to the metropolitan area is dependent on how this stretch of waterfront is recycled for urban use. Furthermore, in the regional growth scenarios and projections of a 'golden triangle' connecting Mumbai, Nashik, and pune, the eastern waterfront would be critical for establishing connections between the old centre and the regional triangle - the latter now comprising emergent industries, special economic zones, and agricultural export zones. It was in recognition of the crucial role that the area could play in the evolution of the metropolitan region that the UDRI (Urban Design and Research Institute) and the KRVIA (Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute for Architecture and Environment Studies) jointly undertook this study to examine the potential of the eastern waterfront.The study on the redevelopment of the land running along the eastern waterfront of Mumbai from Colaba to Wadala came about in recognition of the crucial role that the area could play in the evolution of the metropolitan region. The UDRI (Urban Design Research Institute) and the KRVIA (Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute for Architecture and environment studies) with the support of infrastructure development Finance Corporation jointly undertook this study to examine the potential of the eastern waterfront. The de-industrialization of Mumbai city and