From aamchi Mumbai to Maximum City

Truth behind the spin


Bandra-Worli sea link in Mumbai.

That was Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, speaking at a function last year. One good thing about it is that the politicians have stopped talking about making Mumbai into another Singapore or Shanghai, and want to give Mumbai its own identity, making it a world class city.

The Congress-NCP manifesto for the Assembly election speaks of making Mumbai an international financial hub in five years if voted to power. Actually, there was nothing new in the manifesto. The coalition outlined its master plan for the city titled “Vision Mumbai.” The document is a case of old wine in a new bottle, going only as far as to highlight half a dozen ongoing projects like the metro rail, monorail, skywalks and air port expansions.
It is true that most of these projects have taken off in past two-three years, during the Congress-NCP rule. If one comes to Mumbai, he/she will witness work going on, on a lot of transportation projects such as flyovers, metro and mono rails and skywalks. These projects, once completed, will certainly reduce the crush load density in Mumbai’s local trains and make transit better.

Lacklustre record

The coalition’s record for the earlier term from 1999-2004 was lacklustre; the state had accumulated huge loans and there was hardly anything visible on development front, except the works like Mumbai flyovers and Mumbai-Pune expressway initiated during the Sena-BJP rule. The Bandra-Worli sea link, which hogged the limelight after its inauguration recently, had begun ten years back, and after much delay, it got completed.
The coalition’s second term saw lot of developmental activity in Mumbai, but the major problems like affordable housing and influx of migrants, which is putting enormous burden on the civic infrastructure, are not being addressed by the Congress-NCP due to stiff resistance from within. Unless these two issues are addressed in all seriousness, Mumbai's problems will not be overcome and the metropolis would remain a huge shanty interspersed with skyscrapers.

Unfortunately, the Congress-NCP government, just for the sake of votes, decided on the eve of announcement of assembly elections to regularise illegal slums that have come up in the city between 1995 and 2000. The two parties draw maximum support from the slums, which will continue to be the bane of the civic infrastructure.

The Sena-BJP too are not behind making promises to Mumbaikars. It its joint manifesto, the two parties claim that they will overcome the age-old problems of traffic, slums and water supply, in five years. Multi-storeyed elevated and underground roads and railways, no power cuts, cleaning of rivers around Mumbai in three years, and making sea water potable are a few of the promises. The combine also has promised that the elevated and underground roads and railways will be completed in five years, unlike the sea link, which took 10 years to complete.

Migrant card

The combine touched on the sensitive issue of curbing the flow of migrants to Mumbai. “To reduce the burden on Mumbai’s infrastructure, the influx will be stopped through an independent mechanism,” said Sena Working President Uddhav Thackeray, without elaborating on this “independent mechanism”.

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