A senior industries department official said, “While the proposal for Pipavav waterfront city was floated sometime ago, the one for Mundra is a new proposal on which a presentation was made before Gujarat chief secretary A K Joti last week. The consultants have submitted their draft report, which is now with Gujarat Maritime Board, for refining it further.”
The decision follows the view in top corridors of power that “unplanned urbanization” has characterized port-level development in the past. “This is not just true of Mumbai, Kolkata or Chennai, but also of the area surrounding Kandla port in Gujarat, which gets the highest traffic compared to all major ports of India. Gandhidham township, which came up next to Kandla, was allowed to develop in a very haphazard manner,” the official pointed out.
Both the townships, officials said, will be governed by Gujarat Special Investment Region (SIR) Act, 2009, allowing Gujarat government to earmark areas where the townships will come up and the type of activities that will be allowed there.
“The area for the waterfront city next to Mundra has been identified. It will be just outside Mundra Special Economic Zone, encompassing 33 villages and about 504 square kilometre,” the official said. “To be notified under Special Investment Regions (SIR) Act with powers similar to Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority, a new notified authority will have complete powers to acquire land for infrastructural development, setting aside zones for industrial, commercial and residential activities, and a special region earmarked as green area,” the official said.
Officials further said logistic facilities for the goods to be transported to and from Mundra and Pipavav ports will be in the vicinity of the waterfront townships, and will form SIR. “Activities such as food processing units, especially those related with fishing and marinebased industries, will be encouraged,” they added.
A proposal for developing a waterfront city next to the Gulf of Khambhat in Dholera area was floated at the Vibrant Gujarat Investors’ Summit in 2007. Hindustan Construction Company (HCC) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in this regard. However, there has not been any further progress on this. Giving reason for this, a senior bureaucrat said, “Gujarat government at that time had decided to develop Dholera as a port. Dholera port has now been dropped because of Kalpasar project. Hence, any waterfront city in Dholera will have to take into account how Kalpasar develops as a huge sweet water lake by damming the Gulf of Khambhat.”