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Mumbai’s Port and Dock Lands

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The objective of this study has been to formulate development strategies, policy instruments, and a public imagination for the regeneration of the Port and Dock Lands of the Island City of Mumbai. Published in 2005 as a limited edition “Study of Mumbai's Eastern Waterfront” by the Kamala Raheja Foundation and the Urban Design Research Institute (UDRI), copies are still available from CRIT upon request.

The Port and Dock Lands of Mumbai — occupying the entire harbour-side shore of the Island City — contains docks, warehouses, ship-breaking yards, formal and informal industries and economic activities which have been a vital part of the city’s economy and history. Across the harbour, in Nhava-Sheva on the mainland, containerised shipping has eclipsed the functions of the old Mumbai Port Trust, the sole custodian of the Port and Dock Lands, and the largest land-holder in Mumbai. Containerisation and regional competition by new ports has dramatically changed the historic relationships between the old port and the city, and the harbour and surrounding region. These transformations make it necessary for all those concerned with the city’s future to focus on a public strategy and planning brief for the regeneration of Port and Dock Lands within the Mumbai Metropolitan Region.

Earlier phases of the project (2000–2001) had mapped the built environment of the EWF according to criteria of land-use, ownership patterns, conservation and heritage values, and population and infrastructure. In the process of documentation of the precinct, we also identified the different actors and agencies which have a claim on the limited resources of the area, and whose different and often conflicting interests and agendas will affect any future development scenarios. This study stimulated dialogue between policy-makers, planners and scholars to develop a new planning brief and vision for the regeneration of this historically significant industrial waterfront. In the present phase of the project, UDRI and CRIT have been working with Task Force on the Eastern Waterfront, established by the Govermment of Maharashtra from 2002-2004, and have published the full study in 2005.

A public planning strategy for the Port and Dock Lands can play two vital roles — decongesting the city and improving its environment and opening new spaces for the mobility of goods and people; as well using the nodal location of the waterfront to connect the Island City of Mumbai with its twin city across the harbour, Navi Mumbai, through re-alignment the regional axes of economy, transport and communication. The present phase of the project is working out possible scenarios at the level of the city and region, and developing policy mechanisms and modes of intervention in the Port and Dock Lands. This will establish a basis for negotiation between the conflicting actors, agencies and interests in the area, and ensure sustainability for the local working-class communities by providing them with work opportunities in any new policy regime. The project is also focused on the development of institutional and financial strategies for regeneration of the industrial waterfront into a vibrant public space for locals and citizens.


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