Maharashtra govt revives plan for a London Eye replica in Mumbai

Sandeep A Ashar

As per an initial study, the plan for a London Eye replica will need at least five acre, which can be prove to be a challenge in Mumbai, an official said. (Picture of the London Eye)

THIRTEEN YEARS after it was first mooted, the Uddhav Thackeray-led government has revived the ambitious plan of constructing a ‘Mumbai Eye’ in the city on the lines of the hugely popular tourist attraction in London, the London Eye. The Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government on Wednesday discussed the proposal during the weekly Cabinet meeting.

Later, speaking to mediapersons, NCP leader and Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister, Ajit Pawar, said that the entire Cabinet is in favour of the proposal. But just as Pawar suggested in the meeting that land available towards the Bandra end of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link can be considered for the project, senior officials said that paucity of space and lack of natural vantage points from which one can get an unimpaired view of Mumbai might come in the way of its implementation.

As per an initial study, the plan for a London Eye replica will need at least five acre, which can be prove to be a challenge in Mumbai, an official said. “To build tourist amenities, the site needs to be developable, and devoid of buildable area restrictions.”

“The cantilevered observation wheel in London offers among highest public viewing points. It is also situated on the south bank of Thames, which has several other popular tourist attractions. Finding such a vantage location in Mumbai would be difficult,” another official added.

Apart from the site suggested by Pawar, the government is exploring a site near the Mahim Fort, and a plot of land behind the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA). Incidentally, the civic body, in the city’s new development plan, has proposed to freshly reclaim 300 acre from a portion of the Arabian Sea behind the NCPA for a public nature park.

The plan to replicate the London Eye in Mumbai was first taken up in 2006, when BMC, also led by Shiv Sena, had even made budgetary provision for the construction of a 630-feet Mumbai Eye. The plan at that time was to build it on a 14,000 sq m land near the Bandra Bandstand. But the civic body, which was facing financial constraints at the time, never got to implement the plan.

In 2011, the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation revived the plan, proposing to build one on public-private-partnership basis. But even this plan remained only on paper.

Pawar, on Wednesday, announced that this time around, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority, would be implementing the project. Sources said that state tourism minister and Chief Minister’s Uddhav Thackeray’s son, Aaditya, is keen on the plan. In fact, sources added, before the civic elections in Mumbai in 2022, Aaditya is keen to develop a couple of new tourist attractions in the city.