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What's at Stake in the Fight Over the Mumbai Waterfront

In a megacity in desperate need of better planning, activists are calling for a more sustainable future for the Mumbai Port.
The Indira Dock, one of many along the 28-kilometers of waterfront controlled by the Mumbai Port Trust, lies less than a kilometer away from the heart of downtown Mumbai.
The Indira Dock, one of many along the 28-kilometers of waterfront controlled by the Mumbai Port Trust, lies less than a kilometer away from the heart of downtown Mumbai.The Megacity Initiative

Mumbai is the economic powerhouse of India. The city constitutes over 6 percent of the country’s economy and is quickly establishing itself as an international financial center. This amazing growth, however, has done little to inspire a coherent planning vision for the metropolitan region. Private interests are carving the city into a jumbled mess in order to capitalize on surging land prices. Currently, proposals to redevelop the Mumbai Port have come under fierce debate as the city grapples with an unprecedented opportunity to build a brighter and more sustainable future.

The Mumbai Port helped establish Mumbai as an industrial center for over a century. It sits on over 700 hectares of prime real estate stretching along the entirety of the city’s eastern waterfront. Its necessity to daily life is coming under greater scrutiny, though, as the Nhava Sheva Port across the harbor expands and becomes fully operational. Politicians, architects, and activists are calling for the land to be taken back from the Mumbai Port Trust, which answers to the Ministry of Shipping in New Delhi, instead of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai.