Surf, swim and frolic at Gorai theme park

MMRDA plans to transform Uttan-Manori-Gorai coastline into a theme park, with a mangrove cover, a cultural centre, and water sports among other tourist attractions , as part of a major facelift project

In what is likely to draw more tourists to the city, the development body for the city, MMRDA, wants to give the Uttan-Gorai-Manori area in the western suburbs of Mumbai a major facelift. The area is set for a huge transformation in terms of infrastructure development and recreation sports, making it the new tourist hotspot near the city.

The authority will hold a public consultation programme, and invite objections and suggestions from locals regarding the development of area.

In the 129th authority meeting held by MMRDA last week, CM Prithviraj Chavan said, "We have considered various facets such as environmental sensitivity, tourism potential, seashores, hilly areas, mangroves, water bodies etc. However, before finalising such crucial plans, the participation of locals and sustaining their livelihood cannot be lost sight of." Earlier the locals had opposed the development saying that it would adversely affect the natural beauty, like beaches and hills, of the area.

Currently, the Global Pagoda for Vipassana, Essel World and Water Kingdom in the area form the central attraction for visitors. Setting up additional attractions would draw in more tourist footfalls, the authority believes. It is planning to develop a mangrove park in the Manori-Gorai region. To be built on a 500-acre land, the estimated cost of the park is Rs 10-15 crore. In its annual budget, the body had earmarked Rs 100 crore for the development of the park as well as another theme park in the Manori-Gorai-Uttan belt.

Water sports
A senior MMRDA official, on condition of anonymity, said, "The mangrove park would mark the beginning of our larger plans to promote tourism in this area. No mangroves would be affected while developing the parks." He added, "There are plans for recreation zones, jetties, picnic spots, and water sports to be set up in the area, in addition to an Indian Cultural Centre at Gorai to study the cultures of ancient India."

The theme park would stride 45 acres of the land; the rest would be planted with mangroves, since the land falls under the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ). The MMRDA plans to go for a tie-up with an international firm to develop and maintain the theme park.

The MMRDA officials are also contemplating whether heritage status can be given to the seven gaothans or villages that have existed in the area for centuries.

Speaking to MiD DAY, MMRDA Commissioner Rahul Asthana said, "As the special planning authority of Uttan-Gorai-Manori, we want to provide better infrastructure to the locals. A development plan will be prepared after taking into consideration the objection and suggestions of the area's residents."

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