Mumbai (1661-1947) | Railway Network, Docks, and Reclaimed Land
In 1865 Lieutenant Colonel M.K. Kennedy described the radical change in Bombay’s topography as follows:
” Belvedere Hill has gone into the sea, Santa Cruz and Bhandarwada Hills are following. Malabar Hill is in the process of being rolled out and we hear that Tardeo and Worlee Hills will soon follow and so will the Powder Works Hills.”
(Kennedy, 1865, p.404)
During the 1860s, reclamation was the mere intense economic activity in Bombay. Two railway companies – The Great Indian Peninsular Railway (G.I.P) and the Bombay Baroda and Central India Railway Company (B.B.C.I.) established in 1853 and 1856 respectively. (Dossal, 2010, p.128) Nearly 84 acres of land was gained through the series of reclamation of land on the eastern waterfront in 1865 – from Apollo Bunder to Sewree, and from the Mint to Carnac Bunder (Mody Bay) provided land for the construction of the Central Railway (G.I.P.) Station and its headquarters. Moreover, the seven and a half mile track between Wadala and Ballad Pier was laid on the reclaimed land of Ballard Estate. Offices of different industrial and business interests were housed in the buildings of various architectural style in the remaining reclaimed land. Docks, godowns, oil depots, and the B.P.T. Railway covered other parts of the reclaimed land on the east coast while storage depots for petrol and kerosene formed the headquarters of the oil trade in Bombay with the vast area recovered from the Mazagaon Sweri reclamation.
The reclamation projects on the east coast triggered the construction of railways and docks. Simultaneously, there was an increase in textile mills in the central and northern parts of the city. However the increase caused congestion due to blocking of roads by cotton-loaded carts. The completion of largest depot in Asia at Sewri, demolition of the Western Terminus at Colaba in 1930, and the erection of a new terminus at Bombay Central are the solutions to relieve the situation. It is apparent that Reclaimed land has played an important role in Mumbai’s development as 40% of the industrial and dock areas and commuting rail corridors lies on them (David, 1995, p.250-252). These transportation networks are vital to the formation of Mumbai’s significance in commerce and trading.
Lieutenant Colonel M.K. Kennedy (1865) , Secretary to Bombay Government to E.W. Ravenscroft, Officiating Chief Secretary to Bombay Government, MSA, PWD, GD. No.53. Bombay
David, M. (1995). Bombay, the city of dreams. Bombay: Himalaya Pub. House.
Dossal, M. (2010). Theatre of conflict, city of hope. Oxford: Oxford University Press.