A new growth trajectory

Published : Nov 21, 2003 00:00 IST

Mumbai's suburban rail system carries about 64 lakh passengers a day. - PAUL NORONHA

Mumbai's suburban rail system carries about 64 lakh passengers a day. - PAUL NORONHA

The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority works keeping in view the long-term development of the metropolis whose infrastructure demands are increasing by the day.

THE Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has been in the forefront of the development of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), comprising the mega city of Mumbai and a rapidly growing hinterland.

The Authority was set up on January 26, 1975, under the Government of Maharashtra's Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority Act, 1974, as an apex body for planning and coordination of development activities in the region. The MMRDA achieves its goal of balanced development of the region by adopting the following strategies: preparation of perspective plans; promotion of alternative growth centres; strengthening of infrastructure facilities; and provision of development finance.

It prepares plans, formulates policies and programmes and helps direct investments in the region. It conceives, promotes and monitors key projects for developing new growth centres. It brings about improvements in sectors such as transport, housing, water supply and the environment. Further, if a project is of particular significance, it takes up the responsibility for its implementation. The main projects undertaken by the MMRDA include the multi-model Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP), as a sequel to the Bombay Urban Transport Project (BUTP), which was completed in 1984 at a cost of about Rs.390 million. The Authority has formulated the MUTP with World Bank assistance to improve the traffic and transportation situation in the region. The MUTP envisages investment in projects involving suburban railway, local bus transport, new roads, bridges and pedestrian subways and traffic management. The Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC), a joint venture of the Railways and the State government, has been established for implementing rail projects under the MUTP and other projects of the Railways in the MMR. The total estimated cost of the project is Rs.45,260 million ($943 million). The World Bank sanctioned a loan of Rs.26,020 million ($542 million), that is, 57 per cent of the total cost on June 18, 2002. Over 88 per cent of the commuters in Mumbai travel by suburban trains or BEST (Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport) buses. Mumbai's suburban rail system carries about 64 lakh passengers a day. About 4,700 passengers travel in a nine-car rake during peak hours, as against its rated carrying capacity of 1,700.

This is the first in a series of new growth centres that are planned in Greater Mumbai to help arrest further concentration of offices and commercial activities in south Mumbai. It provides an alternative location where future growth of offices and commercial activity can be absorbed and where some of the existing activities from south Mumbai can be relocated. In 1977, the MMRDA was appointed as the Special Planning Authority for the planning and development of this complex. It covers an area of 370 hectares of once marshy land on either side of the Mahim Creek. The area had poor surface drainage and was affected by pollution in the Mahim Creek. The channelisation of the creek to improve drainage and reduce pollution was one of the important features. The Mithi River - for about 6 km of its length from the Mahim Causeway to C.S.T. Road Bridge - and its tributary Vakola Nullah, for 2.5 km. of its length have been channelised for an average bed width of 60 metres and 40 m respectively, thereby improving the hydraulic features of these two important watercourses in the BKC area.

Private and public offices, banks and retail and wholesale shopping establishments are located in the BKC. These are expected to provide 200,000 jobs in the area. The MMRDA has so far developed 19 ha of marshy land in `E' Block where a number of office buildings have been constructed. These buildings together provide an office space of 174,000 square metres with potential to accommodate 17,400 jobs.

Alongside the development in `E' Block, the focus of development has moved to the adjoining `G' Block, where a new International Finance and Business centre is planned.

The phenomenal growth in economic activity and its concentration in the old established centre of south Mumbai is the main cause of congestion in the metropolis. Hence the thrust of the planning efforts of the MMRDA has been to be to restructure this pattern of development. The MMRDA is creating new growth centres, which will act as additional foci of developmental activities in the region, absorbing future expansion of offices and commercial activities. The District Centre at Oshiware in the western suburbs of Mumbai is one of the new growth centres contemplated. The 102 ha site of this centre is situated near the Western Railway line between Jogeshwari and Goregaon railway stations. The centre is planned with a target of 40,000 jobs. It will have a shopping complex with about 3,000 shops. A variety of cultural and recreational activities will also be provided. The centre will include some residential areas, which will accommodate about 20,000 families. The planning proposals for the centre were approved by the government on March 1, 1992.

The proposals are being implemented through the participation of landowners. Under the scheme, private land in the area is notionally acquired and leased to the landowners who are expected to develop the lands in accordance with the MMRDA's plan and architectural control. The cost of development of infrastructure is recovered by collecting a lease premium and a development charge. The construction of roads and storm-water drains is in progress along with nullah work.

The MMRDA was appointed in 1983 as a Special Planning Authority for the 223 ha Backbay Reclamation Area in south Mumbai. The development plan proposes to provide a finishing edge to the shoreline in order to prevent unauthorised dumping of waste and reclamation of the area. The plan includes a bypass road and additional parking facilities that would help relieve traffic congestion in the Backbay area. It also provides for a promenade and a garden.

In July 1992, the government appointed the MMRDA as a Special Planning Authority for the Kalyan Complex Notified Area after excluding the area within the Kalyan-Dombivali Municipal Corporation limits. The newly designated area, measuring about 252 sq km, includes the towns of Ulhasnagar, Ambarnath and Kulgaon-Badlapur.

Owing to its proximity to Mumbai and large-scale industrialisation, this area has experienced rapid urban growth. Considering the need for improving the transportation network in this area, the MMRDA carried out, through an external consultant, a study on the `traffic and transportation problems' of the area. Based on the existing land use survey and the traffic and transportation study, the MMRDA has formulated proposals for the development plan of the area. The draft development plan will be published soon to invite public suggestions and objections.

A computer-based Regional Information System is developed and maintained by the MMRDA. Basic data on population, employment, industries and other sectors are collected and processed regularly. The information system facilitates the planning, development and coordination functions of the MMRDA. Geographic Information System (GIS), which integrates the maps and attribute data in digital form, is used extensively for organising various databases. Demonstrative studies such as the Development Plan Monitoring, water supply network analysis and air pollution monitoring have been undertaken. A few collaborative projects have been carried out with the Space Applications Centre, Ahmedabad, and the National Remote Sensing Agency, Hyderabad, to demonstrate the application of GIS in urban planning and management.

The MMRDA completed two major World Bank-aided projects in the transport and shelter sectors. The BUTP is basically aimed at improving the public bus service and easing traffic conditions by constructing flyovers on selected road corridors in Greater Mumbai. The MUDP is one of the largest site and services project undertaken in the MMR. The Authority successfully implemented the shifting of wholesale markets from congested parts of Mumbai. A special regulation for the location of the commodities market was created.

Ongoing projects include the development of the Wadala Truck Terminal, which is expected to provide a centralised facility for goods transport activities at a well-planned site. It would relieve traffic congestion in Greater Mumbai. Work is in progress on establishing an International Finance and Business Centre at the Bandra-Kurla Complex, which would help create necessary facilities to promote the growth of such activities in the MMR. In another part of the Bandra-Kurla Complex, the Mahim Nature Park is being developed. The project site was previously a garbage dumping ground, which is being converted into a park for recreational and educational purposes.

The MMRDA works with the long-term development of the region in view, keeping in mind the infrastructure demands of a rapidly growing metropolis. The various projects it has planned will make this vast urban centre a better place to live, work and do business in.

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