Mumbai is undergoing a massive infrastructure overhaul at a scale never witnessed since independence.
Mumbai is going through an infrastructure boom, and for millions of its inhabitants, this has been long overdue. As residents of the city have been witnessing for the last few years, currently Mumbai is undergoing a massive infrastructure overhaul. This scale of augmentation was probably witnessed only pre-independence.
For a megacity, Mumbai has always had exemplary infrastructure. Most of its critical infrastructure can trace its origins back to pre-independence, started by the British. The local train network, originally started in 1853, ferrying millions of Mumbaikars every day, is has been expanded numerous times; and remains one of the most well-connected local city networks across the country. The other popular public transport, Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) buses, which in its original avatar was set up about 150 years ago, but even today it continues to remain safe, reliable and economical, serving as a regular daily commute for Mumbaikars.
While these civic services have lasted more than a century, they are clearly inadequate for the business capital of the country with a population of more than 20 million, especially with the growth of the service sector, financial sector and the technology sector. For instance, the commute from south to north or east to the west seems to take longer with each passing decade as the city spreads. The overcrowded city also finds itself boxed into certain geographical limitations with the sea setting a permanent boundary, limiting access roads that consequently, become traffic-clogged during peak hours.
This makes the current infrastructure boom all the more critical to the continued development of India’s commercial capital. The construction of expressways, roads, flyovers, and metros, will go a long way in addressing one of the city’s key challenges, shortening commute times for its residents, while ensuring world-class facilities. It will also have a significant impact on Mumbai’s highly valued real estate market in the coming decades. While it may further enhance the valuation of the city’s commercial hub, suburbs and micro-markets will also see higher valuation, triggering a more even expansion and development of the city.
From 2022 onwards, many of the city’s ongoing projects will start hitting their completion. These major infra projects include the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link, Navi Mumbai International Airport, Mumbai Coastal Road, Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor, Mumbai Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail, Goregaon-Mulund Link Road, and the planned underground tunnel between Borivali and Thane.
The 21.8 km-long Mumbai Trans Harbour Link is one of the most anticipated projects in the city, connecting it with rapidly developing Navi Mumbai, the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, and the proposed Western Freeway. A similar sea link is the Mumbai Coastal Road, connecting Marine Lines in the south of the city to Kandivali in the north. The Goregaon-Mulund Link Road will comprise of three six-lane flyovers that will include two tunnels. Similarly, the Thane-Borivali twin tunnels will connect the city with Thane. In the next few years, we will also see a big push with the metro line. The 14 lines of the Mumbai metro are spread across more than 200 km, with a further 21.289 km coverage approved and 136.4 km under the proposal. Of this, 11.4 km are operational while 169.061 km is under construction.
Improving commute, encouraging development
Along with the ongoing metro rail project, these major roads will reduce commute time within the city and are expected to relieve congestion on main and arterial roads. By improving access to commercial areas and connecting them with suburban areas, these projects will provide an alternative to the overburdened main roads, such as the Western Expressway. It will go a long way in connecting some of Mumbai’s far-flung suburbs, connecting the east-west and south-west corridors.
Together, these projects will ensure last-mile connectivity to the commercial hubs in the city, including Andheri, Nariman Point, Lower Parel, and BKC. Locations like Lower Parel and BKC have emerged as one of the fastest-growing commercial regions. Lower Parel transformed from an area with shanties, mills, and chawls to one of the city's fastest developing business areas with restaurants, malls, and nightclubs. Similarly, BKC which was planned as an alternative to the congested Central Business District in South Mumbai has now established itself successfully not only as one of Mumbai’s new Central Business District but also as a coveted residential area.
The infrastructure projects are not limited to the city limits alone. With connectivity to micro-markets of Mumbai’s satellite cities, Thane, Navi Mumbai, and Palava, many of these projects will be key in meeting the objective of developing the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. Development of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region will also result in the decongestion of more overcrowded areas within prime Mumbai.
The development of satellite cities is also expected to boost the real estate markets in areas like Thane and Navi Mumbai. With the ready availability of mid-scale and premium residential properties, these areas are poised for another round of growth and occupancy once the infra projects come up. Navi Mumbai, in particular, will be an area of interest once the proposed international airport also sees completion.
To sum up, the major infrastructure projects underway in Mumbai and nearby areas will be critical in ensuring the growth of India’s financial capital. As a city that is home to some of the nation’s biggest businesses, this development will help in encouraging more commercial growth across the region as it also cuts down on the average commuting time for the office goer, thereby taking an important step in addressing the quality of life of the city’s residents. Mumbai will witness a major overhaul in its infrastructure from a commuting standpoint. While several projects have been under construction for a long time; and also these projects will get commissioned gradually, what this generation will witness over the next few years is something that Mumbai has not seen for several decades.
-by Bhavin Thakker, MD, Mumbai & Head – Cross Border Tenant Advisory, Savills India
(Edited by : Pradeep Suresh V)