Nariman Point makeover
The Maharashtra state government is close to finalising a Rs 3,500-crore plan that will change the face of Mumbai's business and administrative district and provide an appropriate end-point to Marine Drive, the city's most iconic stretch. According to the proposal, the entire area around Nariman Point will be recast into a well-connected hub that will include a Central Park near Mantralaya, two towers to house MLAs and judges and a brand new promenade on the neglected waterfront between NCPA and Badhwar Park. The government also plans to construct a few business centres, including an "iconic" structure to house offices — much like the Gherkin in London — from which they hope to raise Rs 17,000 crore to make the entire project financially viable. The proposal is being discussed at length by a high-powered committee headed by Chief Secretary Ratnakar Gaikwad and is likely to be executed by the BMC and MMRDA. The plan, prepared by consultants PK Das & Associates, also includes a "new Mantralaya", but the government isn't considering tearing this structure down for now. Narimanan Point hasn't changed at all for the last 40 years. The centre-piece of the project is the Central Park next to Mantralaya, which will be spread over 50000 square metres (roughly three-fourths the size of Oval Maidan) and include a monument dedicated to democracy that will be built at a cost of Rs 21 crore. This park will be completely pedestrian friendly, and Madame Cama Road — which now connects Marine Drive to Regal Cinema — will be turned into an elevated stretch that cuts above the green area, while under it will be a car park that can hold 4100 cars. 'The Avenue' — a raised pedestrians-only pathway that splits the road in two — will seamlessly connect the park to Churchgate station on one side and the Nariman Point waterfront on the other, according to the proposal. The park will also be connected to the new waterfront promenade behind NCPA. The plan includes building a food court near Maker Chambers, a play area for children near NCPA and a Business Gateway near the waterfront. MMRDA officials who are a part of the committee have asked the consultants to make provisions for a helipad as well, but the Western Naval Command is against allowing any private helicopter movement south of Mahalaxmi. The towers that will house judges and ministers will be built at a cost of Rs 700 crore, while Rs 100 crore has been set aside for developing 1.2 kms along the waterfront. The consultants have suggested that the slums near NCPA and Machimar Colony near Badhwar Park be brought under SRA. Alternatively, the plan suggests the current residents be shifted to one of the towers that will include offices. Between 2002 and 2004, the state government had refurbished the entire Queen's Necklace promenade at a cost of nearly Rs 50 crore in Phase I of the Marine Drive Makeover Plan, but the subsequent phase of that project never took off.