MMRDA awards contract to prepare master plan for Mumbai IFSC


Mumbai: A consortium of Tata Consulting Engineers Ltd and Hong Kong’s Townland Consultants Ltd has been awarded the contract to prepare a master plan for developing an International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) in Mumbai. U.P.S Madan, commissioner of Maharashtra government entity Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), said on Saturday that the consultants would be given a time frame of six months to prepare the master plan.

The state government has named MMRDA as the nodal agency for the Mumbai IFSC project which is proposed to come up inside the business district of Bandra Kurla Complex that the MMRDA governs. In July, the MMRDA had received three bids for the preparation of master plan. As per the state government’s original timeline, the contract for preparing the master plan was to be awarded by May this year but the MMRDA received lukewarm response when it issued the tenders.

Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who heads the MMRDA board, said awarding the contract to prepare the master plan was a major step towards realising the IFSC dream. Fadnavis told a gathering of law firms and arbitration experts at the inauguration of Mumbai Centre for International Arbitration (MCIA) that the state government was creating the right ecosystem to build the IFSC.

The Union government and Maharashtra have formed a task force to pilot the IFSC plan. Union minister of state for civil aviation is the chairman of this task force and BJP MP from Mumbai Poonam Mahajan vice-chairperson. The task force has representatives from the public and private sector banks, financial institutions, arbitration experts, bureaucrats, creative, and entertainment sectors. The MMRDA has earmarked 20 hectares in BKC for the IFSC.

A state government official who is associated with the plan and who did not wish to be named said even though the contract for preparing the master plan was awarded, it would not help the state “make a big headway on IFSC unless all outstanding issues were sorted out”. “The consultant is expected to prepare the master plan even though some basic issues have not been sorted out. For instance, the centre has not yet accepted our request to make an exception in the case of Mumbai IFSC by declaring it as a financial SEZ like the Gujarat International Financial Tech-City. To be declared an SEZ we need at least 50 hectares for IFSC but we have only 20 acres. We are also trying to see if more land in BKC could be allotted for IFSC but nothing concrete has emerged yet. The consultants won’t have a clear idea about the exact scale of the IFSC and this could be a serious handicap in preparing the master plan,” the official said.

Earlier this year, the state government made a request to the centre to make an exception for IFSC by declaring it as a special economic zone (SEZ). If the Mumbai IFSC is declared as SEZ, it would be entitled to all regulatory and legal framework and concessions that have been allowed for GIFT. The state made this request after it realised that availability of land was a major challenge in BKC, the business district where land parcels have already been sold out by the MMRDA for a number of public and private financial institutions, banks, government offices, hospitality industry, and public utilities.

The state government has also not been able to resolve a dispute with the railways over allotting land to build the terminal for the proposed Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train. The railways has asked for little less than 1 hectare in BKC to build this terminal but the MMRDA has so far refused to give land citing the IFSC plan.