In what could provide a boost to tourism in South Mumbai, a floating hotel is set to be anchored two nautical miles off Raj Bhavan by October. The 135-m Norway-make luxury cruise liner, Orient Queen, will open its doors for Mumbai and its tourists off Marine Drive.
A floating jetty that was crucial to the plans was recently given clearance by the Mumbai Port Trust. Beside ferrying visitors to Orient Queen from the new Nariman Point jetty, the proposed floating jetty will also support Maharashtra government’s amphibian planes project, officials said.
“The last mile hurdle for launching a new tourism service was cleared recently as the Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) allowed us to set up a floating jetty off Nariman Point. Construction will begin after the monsoon and access to the luxury hotel would be available from October 2017. This has also set the ball rolling for the sea plane project,” said a senior official at the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC).
A joint venture between Rashmi Development Pvt Ltd and the MTDC had been inked four years ago.
“Since 2007, Rashmi Development Pvt Ltd has been attempting to acquire all permissions. All necessary permissions related to security were sought, including those from the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Navy Coast Guard and even the Mumbai Traffic police. After a tie-up with MTDC, the only hurdle was environmental clearance and permission from the Mumbai Port Trust as this section of water belongs to them. Finally, we have a go-ahead for the project,” said an MTDC official.
“We intend to host people during the week for a day-stay or a visit to any of the five restaurants. On weekends, there will be planned cruises around Mumbai,” the official added. According to the plan, the jetty that is expected to cost Rs 3 crore would be located at the end of Nariman Point on the promenade opposite NCPA.
The designs show a 22 m ramp would be placed over the existing tetrapods that will lead visitors to a waiting area, about 100 m in width. Visitors would have to go further over a floating walking area of 100 m in length at the end of which one of the five luxury speed boats will ferry them to Orient Queen. According to official communication, the MbPT has given permission to set up the jetty on seven conditions, and one of them is that the jetty would be constructed and operated by the MTDC and it should be available on “common user basis”.
“The MTDC shall pay leave licence fee to Mumbai Port Trust for use of Mumbai Port Trust water area as the rates applicable as per ‘Land Policy Guidelines for Major Ports, 2014’ issued by the Govt of India,” read the MbPT NOC letter for the floating jetty to operate small boats for the floatel project.
A government official said: “It was mutually decided that the MTDC will pay land rent rates of Malabar Hill for the 135 m-long boat.”
The MTDC’s amphibian planes are likely to connect Mumbai with tourist destinations across the state that are adjacent to suitable water bodies, although there are no runways at these locations.
The air charter services are likely to operate off the Marine Drive waters using the new Nariman Point jetty. Orient Queen would be the second floating hotel off the city’s shore. At the Maharashtra Maritime Board’s jetty in Bandra under the Bandra-Worli Sea link, AB Celestial, a three-tier luxury dining facility, had been inaugurated in March 2017.