01/08/2017 2:33 PM IST | Updated 01/08/2017 2:34 PM IST

Mumbai's Versova Beach Could Look Like Miami In A Few Years, Say Officials

Ambitious plans are being drawn up.

The Times Of India Group, © BCCL (Versova Beach) // Max Pixel (Miami Beach)
Versova Beach cleanliness drive in November, 2016 (left), Miami Beach in Florida (right)

For the price of Rs 20 crore, Mumbai could have a local version of the Miami Beach. Or so local MLA Ameet Satam and the Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB) would have us believe, with their ambitious plans to duplicate the tourist and local attraction that is Miami Beach at Versova with a marine entertainment zone, reported Mumbai Mirror.

The zone will host beach events and have designated areas for shacks and water and beach sports like cricket, kabbadi and volleyball. The project, a collaborative effort of Versova citizens, Satam and architect PK Das, will cost about Rs 20 crore and is meant to control the encroachment and misuse of beach property that has plagued the area for the last 25 years.

"Versova beach was encroached upon by 150 shanties... the beach is a public open space for leisure, tourism and entertainment... we want to protect public open spaces and promote tourism, which will in turn boost economy," Satam told Mumbai Mirror.

MMB, which already owns 1 to 2 acres of the 28-acre beach, is currently seeking relaxation of Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) rules so that permanent structures can be built to encourage tourism. It is in the process of demarcating portions of the beach that can be contracted to build the entertainment hub.

The plan, called the Oceana Concept, involves MMB leasing the beach to a company for development and setting up activities that the public will be charged for. There will also be provisions to reserve the area for events, but for not more than 100 days in the year, reported Mumbai Mirror.

Another proposed unique feature in a first-of-its-kind Rs 25-crore beach broadwalk in India that will connect roughly 10 kms of Juhu Beach to Versova Beach.

"Between Juhu and Versova beaches is a river, and below the boardwalk there will be mangroves, which will be an added attraction," said Atul Patne, CEO of MMB.

Plans to beautify Versova and other beaches in the state have been underfoot for a while now. The project falls under the Nirmal Sagar Tat Abhiyaan, or the Maharashtra Beach Development Programme which involves the development, beautification and encouraging sports at 103 beaches in the state. At present, 76 beaches have been identified for the purpose, including Mumbai's Juhu, Versova, and Aksa beach.

Despite the spectacular failure of the 2005, Rs 2 trillion-plan to turn Mumbai into Shanghai, there is hope that this project won't meet the same fate. In the past, Satam's efforts to improve the beach have yielded slow, but definite results. In November 2014, he led a massive clean-up drive, involving 200 officials from various departments and the demolition of over 100 shanties. In 2015, the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation split the beach into two and approved the current beautification plan.