‘Bombay (Mumbai) is bursting at its seams’; this outcry is heard quite often in our social networks!
Managing urban development, especially like in Mumbai, so as to keep pace with internal migration, is a major challenge for India! As a domiciled resident of Mumbai, I have witnessed the changes taken place over the last four decades. Though there has been ample development in terms of – ‘roadways’ infrastructure, modern ‘self contained’ housing complexes, civic amenities, newly added core industries, new-found software companies/ body-shoppers, Multiplex cinemas, sprawling shopping Malls and hyper-markets – Urban development in Mumbai is looking at bleak futures unless we tackle the issue now!
DMIC (Delhi- Mumbai Industrial Corridor) project envisages a total of 24 ‘smart cities’ spanning six states. These cities will boast of ‘state of art’ infrastructure with centrally integrated civic services such as power, water and sewage disposal.
“World Bank projections show urban centers accounting for 40% of India’s population by the year 2030 and crossing 50% by 2040-45. It is in this backdrop that the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial corridor (DMIC) project to build new futuristic cities assumes significance. By 2020, there will be a shortfall of 30 million dwelling units, 200 million water connections and 160 GW of power” (source: Times of India)
Town Planning is not practiced while building cities in India like it is done overseas, especially in other emerging countries. In Mumbai, there is only ‘spontaneous’ need based growth that is haphazard and lack in common sense. The local trains in Mumbai are overcrowded by 6 times its capacity, during the peak hours. There is a clear North-South divide and every morning, huge working class travels to South from the North! This could have been avoided, if there was all round town-development of the city. Due to congestion, the cost of land in Mumbai city ( including suburbs) has gone up by multiple times and buying a house in Mumbai is ridiculously expensive, beyond the reach of a salaried individual.
Though I welcome DMIC Project, I am apprehensive of the common factor ‘corruption’ and lack of focus in the project, due to central/ political intervention. For example, Town development in Vashi/ New Bombay has been done well, due to freedom given to CIDCO in construction of roads and civic amenities. Also, the local trains plying on the harbour suburban line are better equipped, neat/ clean and well maintained like its suburban stop stations are. This could be possible only due to empowerment of local councils/ state governments. Mumbai is a classic example, that is not to be followed – due to total absence of effective local government. There should be a separate chief minister/ cabinet for Mumbai alone! The plight of Mumbaites, during every Mumbai deluge because of torrential rains in monsoon, is quite common and well known. If Mumbai city was well planned at the start, this inconvenience can be avoided! Decentralization of business districts to prominent Mumbai suburbs will reduce pressure on civic amenities/ vehicular traffic and keep Mumbai going! Traffic control should be exercised well, in order to bring forward and reward ‘responsible’ citizens using the Mumbai roads.