Dec 23, 2008

Backbay Reclamation Project of Bombay

Backbay Reclamation project had its genesis in Bombay - Baroda railway. During the cotton bubble, the land prices in Bombay had gone through the roof, and a railway terminal in Bombay needed a large amount of land that was close to the sea routes.

The agreement was that the Backbay Reclamation company will provide the government the land required for the railway terminal and other public purposes, and use the rest for profit -- at the time when land prices had gone through the roof.

This project stopped immediately after the American Civil War ended and a depression set into the land prices. The Backbay reclamation company went bankrupt and was liquidated. Government gave whatever land that was created for the purpose of building a live from Churchgate to the new terminal in Colaba. This terminal does not exist today. The reason for selecting Colaba for the terminal was perhaps the fact that a cotton exchange operated there since 1844.

Premchand Roychand was wiped out in this depression.

The reclamation project started again in 1917 - fifty years after it was initiated. However, again the depression on 1920s slowed the project down. As a part of the project the railway terminal built in Colaba was moved to Bombay Central, which is the current location of terminus of Western Railways.

From the initial plan to reclaim 1500 acres, the plan was reduced to reclaim 1145 acres in 1917. By the time a stage of the project was completed in 1929, only about 440 acres were reclaimed. 235 acres were sold to the military and 17 acres were incorporated into the Marine Drive and its sea wall.

Backbay Reclamation continued after independence of India and the land that was recovered is today's Nariman Point and Cuffe Parade area.

Eventually, Supreme Court injunctions protecting the shoreline and coastal fishermen ground the work to halt in the 1970s.