Real estate and infrastructure development have been the mainstay of the developing city of Navi Mumbai. With the work on the much talked about airport inching ahead, the city is all set to witness another phase of realty and infra boom. As Adivashi reported, the existing nodes of Vashi, Belapur and Nerul have reached their saturation point and Ulwe, Kharghar and Panvel have emerged as the new development zones on the periphery of the airport where the realty rates have already skyrocketed. Affordable housing here has been reduced to a joke.

It is in this context that developers are pinning hopes on Dronagiri near JNPT and Uran. “Come to Dronagiri where one can still book a house at Rs 3,500 a sq ft,” says Sangram Patil, President of Raigad-Navi Mumbai unit of Maharashtrian Builders’ Association. The node, planned by CIDCO, has potential for growth.

A quick trip to Dronagiri reveals that the node is quite strategically located close to the employment catchment areas like ONGC and JNPT. One can say it is Navi Mumbai’s upcoming suburb, 22 km away from Vashi and about 3 km from Uran. Another advantage for Dronagiri is the sea route to Mumbai from Uran. One can reach Ferry Wharf, also known as ‘Bhaucha Dhakka’ at Princess Dock, in 40 minutes, says developer Rajesh Prajapati.

“We are quite bullish over Dronagiri,” says Prajapati, who is also the media convener of realtors’ apex body CREDAI. “Apart from the airport, we will soon witness the execution of Mumbai Trans-Harbour Link that will connect Uran with Sewree,” he says. Uran also has Navi Mumbai’s only beach that can be developed as a picnic spot.

Some media friends are skeptical since CIDCO has not developed infrastructure at the new node of Ulwe where several buildings have come up with hardly any occupancy. Ulwe lacks basic civic amenities like drainage, water supply and even power.

But both Patil and Prajapati have answer for this skepticism. CIDCO is not repeating its Ulwe mistake and the planning body has already issued tenders for roads and drainage in upcoming sectors. Moreover, CIDCO already has provided amenities in the existing colonies at Dronagiri.

Meanwhile, a group of developers have met CIDCO officials with a demand to speed up

infrastructure development at Ulwe. Their fear is that investors may soon ask for refund.

While the weatherman breaks the good news that the monsoon will soon hit the city, the bad news is that road repairs are yet to be completed. Vashi-Turbhe road, for instance, is in a permanent state of repair. A huge stretch of Palm Beach Road at Vashi’s sector-17 has been dug up and the work at D Mart circle in Kopar Khairane is still incomplete. One wonders if the expansion work on Sion-Panvel highway will be completed before the rains.

Looking at the monsoon clouds, CIDCO has banned visitors to the Kharghar hillock which has emerged as a favourite week-end spot for Navi Mumbai people. Landslides during the heavy downpour can endanger the lives of revelers.

Monsoon comes with its own set of miseries for the Thane-Belapur industrial belt and the small scale unit owners here apprehend that this year too may not be any different. Water-logging, terrible roads and bad street lights have become part of the lives for those working in the area.

NMMC has constructed storm water drains but will they stand the test of the monsoon? That is a million dollar question as the area is always prone to rain water gushing from the Parsik hills.

Watch this space as Adivashi continues to keep an eye on roads and potholes.

Now, a word on city politics. Guardian Minister Ganesh Naik’s bête noire within the NCP, Manda Mhatre, is threatening to join the BJP if she is denied party ticket in the elections to the legislative Assembly from Belapur constituency. Naik is the sitting MLA from here. With Manda throwing her hat in the ring and the Congress claiming its right over Belapur seat, one can expect some interesting political developments soon.

Manda says she is ready to contest as an independent if no party gives her the ticket. It is no secret that the local Congress did not work for Naik’s son Sanjeev in the recent Lok Sabha poll despite the party’s alliance with the NCP at the state and national levels.

This is the 76th in a series on Navi Mumbai by veteran media professional B N Kumar, a long-time resident of Mumbai’s twin city. He can be contacted at: mailbnk@gmail.com

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