Navi Mumbai to get India's first cruiseliner port
India’s first dedicated terminal for cruiseliners is all set to come up at Nhava hills, 60 km from Mumbai and next to India’s biggest container port at Nhava Sheva. The Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) has accepted the state government’s request to build the state-of-the-art terminal that can accommodate at least three large cruise ships at the scenic 10 sq km Nhava Hills, which will also house a plush five-star hotel and world-class Coast Guard berthing facilities. The JNPT, which was already looking to develop Nhava for the extension of its cargo port facilities, has started preparing a detailed project report for the proposed terminal. JNPT’s deputy chairperson N N Kumar said, “The new terminal will have a large five-star hotel in its complex. We are planning to start catamaran services to immediately transport tourists at the terminal to the Gateway of India.” The terminal’s proximity to the proposed Navi Mumbai International airport and Sewree-Nhava Transharbour link will make it one of best and busiest cruise terminals in the region. Maharashtra Maritime Board has also been asked to explore the possibility of a Marina with a capacity for about 100 boats at Cuffe Parade. The costing of both projects are yet to be worked out. In India, Kumar said, cruiseliners do have docking facilities at Mumbai and Kochi. But both terminals are make-shift and lack even the most elementary facilities such as proper toilets. At Mumbai, the passengers alight at an old building next to the Naval Dockyard, which is shabby at best. The Union government had approved developing the building into a dedicated cruise line terminal, but the Navy shot down the plan as it was coming in its operational area, an IAS officer said. In fact, another project of a marina at Apollo Bunder by Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) ran aground for the same reason. The crumbling port infrastructure and lack of space in the city prompted the state government to look outside the city and Nhava hills became a logical choice. A fortnight ago, Chief Secretary Ratnakar Gaikwad conducted a meeting of senior state bureaucrats and decided to request JNPT for a cruise terminal at Nhava. Till a decade ago, poor facilities and strict taxation regime was forcing cruiseliners to look to other South Asian countries, which cashed in on the opportunity.