Mumbai Metro’s commercial complex set to come up in Nariman Point

Sandeep A Ashar
Construction work in Mahim for the underground Metro 3. The car shed is proposed for this line. (Express photo by Amit Chakravarty)

After its initial plan to commercially utilise a piece of land in Aarey Colony for funding the Metro 3 project failed due to protests from citizen groups and environmentalists, the state is now eyeing land parcels in Nariman Point for the purpose.

A proposal for the allotment of a 1.81 lakh square feet land near Vidhan Bhavan to the state-run Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL), which is building the 33-km Metro rail route, is in the final stages of approval, said government sources.

Much of the land, which is being earmarked for the commercial purpose, had housed offices of political parties and several other government offices for more than three decades.

In 2015, all of these offices were temporarily shifted to Ballard Pier alternate locations with the government allotting the land to the MMRCL for the purpose of building the casting yard and other rail related works for the project. Most of the party offices were rehabilitated in rented accomodations in Ballard Pier.

According to the original allotment condition, the land license to the MMRCL was to last till the completion of the construction work. But the agency has now approached the government for allotment of the land parcel on a permanent basis. Another condition imposed originally was that the party offices will be resettled on the same location once the work had been completed.

The MMRCL, which had originally identified a three-hectare land patch in Aarey Colony for commercial exploitation, has proposed construction of an office complex at the Nariman Point location for leasing out purposes. Sources also said that the urban development and revenue departments have okayed MMRCL s proposal. The proposal was also discussed and cleared during the chief minister s war room meetings. On March 18, the urban development department has facilitiated the proposal by modifying the reservation of the land in question from government housing and resettlement of cottages to Metro Rail station, allied users, and commercial zone . The Vidhan Bhavan station of the Colaba-Bandra underground line will also come up on a portion of the land.

For the commercial development, the MMRCL is also pushing for higher floor space index (FSI) for the development. Mumbai s new development control regulations already permit an FSI of 5 for commercial development on independent plots. FSI is a development tool that determines the extent of construction permissible on a plot. It is a ratio of built-up area to the total plot area.

According to MMRCL s initial plan, three of the 33 hectare it has been allotted in Aarey Colony were meant for commercial development. But after intense opposition to this plan, the chief minister had declared that there would no commercial development inside Aarey Colony . While the Aarey land was originally earmarked for Metro car shed, other uses, commercial purposes , the government later disallowed the commercial use. Seeking an alternate location for property development, MMRCL s Managing Director Ashwini Bhide had first approached the government for allotment of the Nariman Point land on a permanent basis for commercial development last December.

Of the Rs 23,136 crore capital investment required for the Metro 3 project, about Rs 1,000 crore are proposed to be raised through property development, impact fee, and betterment charges . The government has also said that the new commercial development at Nariman Point will help generate a constant stream of revenue, which can be used for funding other Metro projects.

But before the allotment can be made, one final hurdle has to be crossed. The state general administration department has sought a revised resettlement plan for party and other government offices. It has sought reservation of 1.10 lakh sq feet of buildable space in the proposed office complex to rehouse the units.