The Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB) is preparing a comprehensive plan to put in place a water transport network for the entire Greater Mumbai metropolitan region.
With new jetties and terminals, breakwaters in the open sea, elevated roads for better access, Mumbai’s waterfronts are all set to get a makeover. The entire project will cost over Rs 1,000 crore and once complete, will not only provide an alternate means of transportation, but will reduce commuting time from far-flung areas such as Navi Mumbai, Thane, Vasai and Virar to south Mumbai from at least 75 minutes to about 30 minutes.
In addition, roll-on roll-off (Ro/Ro) services will also be made available, whereby passengers can drive on to the ferries in their cars at one end and drive out to land on the other.
FE had reported last year in August that a plan had been made to develop the water transport network and a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed to this effect between MMB, Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) and City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO). However, only partial development has taken place with Ro/Ro services available only between Alibaug and Mandwa currently.
The project has now been divided into phases and has received a renewed thrust with the current government’s emphasis on developing waterways. The first phase envisages connectivity from Navi Mumbai (Belapur and Nerul terminals, respectively, to be developed by CIDCO), as well as Alibaug to Ferry Wharf in Mumbai.
However, since people commuting to south Mumbai would not prefer to get off at Ferry Wharf, the jetties at Radio Club and NCPA will also be developed. This two jetties will be developed jointly by MMB and Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT). Work orders have already been submitted by MMB for a portion of this phase and construction is expected to begin shortly, after the monsoon season.
In the second phase, jetties, complete with Ro/Ro services, will be developed at Thane, Kalyan-Dombivli, Bhiwandi and Ulhasnagar. It is understood each of these municipalities have also made a plan for water transport and which will be integrated with the plan put in place by MMB.
The Board has appointed a consultant for this phase and the detailed project report (DPR) is expected to be complete in three months time. Atul Patne, CEO, MMB, told FE, “All these projects are on track to be completed by March 2018 after which people will be able to use a good cruise or ferry service or even catamarans as and when operators come forward with their proposals”.
However, hovercraft and seaplane operators are currently insisting for a landing berth in Colaba (under MbPT jurisdiction), where the charges are slightly higher. Hence, such services have not been launched yet.
MMB has also revived a plan in Borivali where it has a land bank, to develop a jetty so that ferry services can be launched all the way to south Mumbai and back from this densely populated western suburb. Patne said, “We have now engaged with a well-known consultant who was also involved in the planning of the waterways in Hong Kong. With their help, we believe just from Borivali alone, a RoRo service from here has the potential to remove at least 1,500 cars from the roads during peak hour.”