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Daily News and Analysis India 28 Oct 07
It will take 20 years for prices to come down

Daily News and Analysis India 28 Oct 07
India needs 800 new cities
Reclamation is a good option, but it canít be sustained in the long-run, says Anil Baijal

Daily News and Analysis India
We have lost 3,000 acres of mangrove cover
Environmentalist Rishi Aggarwal tells Lakshmy Ramanathan why the cityís mangroves should be saved

Daily News and Analysis India
Our delivery record is bad
There is no capacity study conducted for Mumbai, says Janki Andharia

Daily News and Analysis India 28 Oct 07
Thereís nothing wrong with reclamation: RK Pachauri

In an exclusive interview with Ameya Bhise, noted scientist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr RK Pachauri talks about the cityís land scarcity and the possible solutions

Does Mumbai need reclamation?

The city needs space and I see nothing wrong with going in for reclamation. Itís important, however, that the reclamation is done in a manner that doesnít create any further environmental problems. Reclamation should give you a firm basis for development.

In other words, it has to be done with some degree of care and according to a plan. If these things are followed, then I think it is perfectly valid to go in for reclamation. It isnít something new; several cities in the world have done it with success.

But Mumbai canít forget the 26/7 deluge. Do you really think that reclamation can be a successful policy for the city?

What you have raised is an important point. The city planners will have to create better infrastructure. There will have to be proper roads and drainage facilities.

You also have to ensure the proportion of land area and land use is sustainable and environmentally friendly. All these pre-requisites are necessary before reclamation can work as a long-term policy. If these are not in place, then obviously reclamation will not work.

What is the reclamation model that Mumbai should follow?

If we want to go ahead and reclaim on a large scale in Mumbai, we should study what other cities Ė Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai, to name a few Ė have done carefully because they have been successful at it.

We have to come up with a scheme and an approach for reclamation that should be standardised and become the benchmark.

What is the one important factor that planners have ignored in Mumbai?

One important factor that has to be taken into account while reclaiming is the issue of sea level rise.

If there is an area that is going to be reclaimed and there will be buildings constructed on it, then those buildings must be able to stand for the next 100 years, at least.

So, let us assume that after 100 years, or say by the end of this century, we have projected that the sea level rise could be anywhere between 18cms to 59cms. If we have to plan for that, then whatever reclamation is carried out must take this factor into account.

Dr RK Pachauri is director-general, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and chairman of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

Daily News and Analysis India 28 Oct 07
India needs 800 new cities
Reclamation is a good option, but it canít be sustained in the long-run, says Anil Baijal

Reclamation is a viable option for a land-scarce city like Mumbai, and I have been advocating it as one of the solutions to combat the cityís artificially high property prices. But reclamation has to be seen in the light of other equally viable options available today. It can work for a city only if it is sustainable. Singapore, Hong Kong, and to a lesser extent Dubai, are examples of how land can be reclaimed in an environmentally friendly and financially sustainable manner.

In Mumbai, as of today, the per square feet cost of reclaimed land is higher than the per square feet cost of a satellite town. Newer technologies are available, and if there is a concerted effort at evolving an all-India policy on this issue, then reclaimed land can be competitively priced vis-a-vis other land.

If a reclaimed land project is commercially more sustainable than setting up a satellite town or green field development, then Mumbai should opt for large scale reclamation.

But the larger issue is that of sustainability of metropolitan centres. There are constraints on several fronts from infrastructure, density of population and provisioning of services. Beyond a point, it is technically not feasible to increase sustainability.

What we need to do is look at setting up satellite townships and new greenfields, which will be sustainable on a long term basis. As a general policy, India must set up somewhere around 600 to 800 new cities across the country. These cities should be vibrant commercially sustainable cities. Everything should be provided in such satellite townships so that the pull factor of the limited metro towns is diminished.

In this context, beyond a point, the economies of scale become diseconomies as they become technically unfeasible. But we have not been able to create many satellite cities ó examples such as Chandigarh, Gandhinagar, Bhubaneswar and Itanagar are few and far between. In Mumbai, reclamation of land should go hand-in-hand with setting up of satellite towns.

Anil Baijal is former secretary, ministry of urban development, and the brain behind the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission. He spoke to Ameya Bhise

Daily News and Analysis India 28 Oct 07
It will take 20 years for prices to come down

The city has 2,500 acres of free land, and reclamation could up that figure. But the impact on prices will not be felt immediately, says Arvind Nandan

Reclamation is a very good option for Mumbai and it will definitely help the city, like it has certain other economies across the world. But before we look at the option of reclamation, we need to look at unlocking land.

In my estimate Mumbai still has about 2,000 to 2,500 acres of land on offer. There are also redevelopment possibilities for existing buildings and slums. There is also a possibility, with due consideration to the environment, to develop portions of salt pan land.

The important thing would be to develop the right infrastructure. It is necessary to reclaim waste land to create infrastructure in the island city and beyond. This will decongest the city, reduce the load on dense pockets and impact the real estate market.

But the impact on realty prices will not be immediate. It will take at least two decades for the improved land supply situation to start impact ing prices. Reclamation should be considered when the cityís locked land is freed.

Moreover, if land is to be reclaimed, planning is very important and so is the quantum of reclamation envisaged. Today, in Mumbai real estate prices have multiplied over the last few years and the trend is actually going to remain the same for a while. To impact the prices we need something quicker.

If we were able to reclaim land very quickly in the next decade or so and then develop it along with the right infrastructure, then it can impact real estate prices.

Land can be reclaimed in South Mumbai, Nariman Point, and Bandra and in the suburbs of Malad and Kandivili. But the question to ask is whether you want to go about reclaiming land in these areas, or should we look at areas like Chembur, Sewri and the Thane-Belapur stretch to free up land. If you were to start developing land that is already available to you before you reclaim land, then developing the 2,000 to 2,500 acres of freed land is going to take a decade. So, the reclamation will start only after that, which means the impact on real estate will be felt in about two decades time.

Arvind Nandan is national head, consultancy services, Cushman & Wakefield Global Real Estate Consultants. He spoke to Ameya Bhise

Daily News and Analysis India
We have lost 3,000 acres of mangrove cover
Environmentalist Rishi Aggarwal tells Lakshmy Ramanathan why the cityís mangroves should be saved

Does reclamation pose a threat to the cityís mangroves?

Mangroves face its biggest threat from realty investment projects, both residential and commercial. We have also been seeing temples and churches built within 10 metres of a riverís estuary.

In the Bangur area in Goregaon, there is a church that is five to 10 metres away from an inlet on the Malad creek, when rules say that the distance should be a good 200 metres.

In the last few years, mangrove lands have also been lapped-up by infrastructure projects like the 22km-long trans-harbour link between Sewri and Nhava Sheva.

Also, an amusement park group is proposing to build a 50-acre Pagoda-styled meditation centre in a mangrove-rich fishing village in Gorai, located in north-west Mumbai. Another 142 hectares of prime mangrove land has been earmarked in Kanjurmarg for dumping Mumbai cityís domestic waste.

This way, the government is just promoting a Ďpick and dumpí policy. Our administration will continuously be in fire-fighting mode, not knowing when a crisis will break out. We need to find permanent solutions, not quick fixes.

But arenít the uses of mangroves a little exaggerated? Though they are said to mitigate the effects of storms and tsunamis, isnít the wave energy in such areas typically low?

You are absolutely right there. Mangroves can only mitigate the degree of destruction, not prevent it. If a tsunami strikes, Versova is most definitely going to be wiped out. But we are not looking at the traditional uses of mangroves alone.

Daily News and Analysis India
Our delivery record is bad
There is no capacity study conducted for Mumbai, says Janki Andharia

With comprehensive feasibility studies and sound scientific methods, reclamation could be an option for Mumbai. But we first need to decide who determines how much reclamation needs to be done; what is the optimum; where can it be carried out; and what is the quality of reclamation, and who will monitor it.

You cannot look only at ecological viability. What kind of growth are we talking about in the reclaimed region? What kind of structures are we going to put up? These issues need to be addressed in a more holistic and integrated manner. Reclamation needs to be part of a larger plan that looks at various dimensions: environmental, infrastructural and economic. There is virtually no study or analysis conducted to tell us the carrying capacity of the city. If we look at the density of the city, we are in serious trouble.

The challenges of urban planning can be gauged from the density of the city. Mumbai houses over 40,000 people per sq km. This is far greater than Seoulís 16,391 and Hong Kongís 6,254.

The average density of population in Mumbai is 20,000 to 30,000 people per sq km, and peaks at 45,000-50,000 people per sq km, which is unheard of anywhere else. The density of the island city of Mumbai in 1990 was 15,000 per sq km. Some parts of central Mumbai on the other hand have a population density of one million people per sq mile.

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