Mumbai in 2025 essay

Mumbai in 2025 essay

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Whose Mumbai will it be in 2025?

Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis wants to transform not only the city, but also the larger Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) in a short time and in a manner that bears his signature over it.

Updated: Feb 03, 2015 22:35 IST

By Smruti Koppikar

It is clear that chief minister Devendra Fadnavis is a man in a hurry when it comes to projects in and about Mumbai. He wants to transform not only the city, but also the larger Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) in a short time and in a manner that bears his signature over it. This large-scale transformation, he envisages, will be led by capital-intensive mega infrastructure projects.

The grand plans in this project, the roadblocks and suggestions to remove them will form the substance of the Mumbai Next: MMR Transformation conclave later this week, where Fadnavis will listen to the business and social elite of the city, indeed the country, scheduled to attend it.

Listen to them, he must, for the captains of industry and czars of entertainment are deemed to be more qualified than Magsaysay award-winning social activists and average Mumbaiites to discuss the subject because the transformation is about creating a “financial, commercial and entertainment hub”.

For transformation watchers, if you please, there is a sense of déjà vu. And the inevitability of big money muscling its agenda into the city. But for those in the middle of it, this is no doubt a super-exciting time to be rolling up sleeves.

They have been there before. Only, the last time around, they were heard, indulged and then kind of marginalised. That was in the late 1990s when the Bombay First, the non-profit organisation of corporate leaders, first mooted the idea of Mumbai as an international finance centre. It did not become a mainstream idea.

In 2002, to attract private involvement/investment in the city’s infrastructure, the then Congress-Nationalist Congress Party government organised a Mumbai infrastructure conference. This gave us the Mumbai Urban Infrastructure Project (MUIP). The idea of Mumbai as a financial centre was rebooted. Bombay First then invited the global consulting firm McKinsey to prepare a report. Called the Vision Mumbai document, it appealed to the government of the day. And the wheels of the transformation project were set in motion.

Of course, this vision was not of an inclusive, democratic, equitable Mumbai. It could not be. It primarily focussed on that which would bring international finance and commerce, but it became the government’s agenda. Successive chief ministers faltered in making that vision a reality. Fadnavis is setting right that record.

As it turns out, the ‘Mumbai Next’ concept and conclave has the support of members of the re-christened Mumbai First. It also happens to provide inputs to the chief minister’s “war room” set up to track the progress of infrastructure projects in Mumbai.

Vision Mumbai may be a legitimate lavish one for a few sectors of corporate India, but fundamentally flawed in its approach to sustainable urbanisation. It seeks to transform Mumbai mainly through mega projects but equally by “re-orienting and reshaping the state (itself),” according to University of Pennsylvania study, among the few that explore the state-corporate axis in urbanisation. The axis is getting stronger in the Fadnavis – and the Bharatiya Janata Party – era.

While freeways, coastal roads, new business districts, entertainment hubs, convention centres are par for the course here, what do these give the average Mumbai citizen? Fadnavis spoke of the coastal road on the city’s western shore because some 60% of the traffic flows in this region. But it is of limited relevance in a city where an average 85% commuters use public transport modes that are not welcome on it, as they are not on the Bandra-Worli sea link. This is but one example.

So whose Mumbai will it be in 2025? No prizes for guessing.

By 2025, Mumbai’s infrastructure will be comparable with the global best

Abhay Kantak | Updated: Apr 14, 2017, 07:40 AM IST

One of Mumbai’s famous sons Rudyard Kipling in his poem “To the City of Bombay” calls his place of birth “Mother of Cities”. Mumbai today for many stands as the “mother of several ills” of urban living.

Every Mumbaikar wakes up to deal with the daily ordeal of an over-burdened transportation infrastructure. The fast-paced Mumbai life finds itself in the slow lane.

In 1864, the planners for Mumbai city, intended Mumbai to be “Urbs Prima in Indis” (The First City in India). But Mumbai has not lived up to this expectation.

Mumbai of yesteryears had a global appeal. Two Danish engineers Holck-Larsen and Soren Kristian Toubro made Mumbai their home and gave birth to a world-beating engineering conglomerate L&T. The year was 1948.

Mumbai in its decrepit state is still attracting the brightest of Indian minds to its shores. IIT Bombay attracts about 2/3rd of the top 100 rankers. Mumbai also needs to find a way to retain the talents it moulds. The doyen of India’s IT industry TCS was born in Mumbai but has grown outside its borders. Ola, with its origins in Mumbai, sought to strike its roots and blossom in Bangalore.

In Mumbai, land supply has been artificially kept low erroneously to limit migration. Rent Control Act and the peculiar geography of the city bounded on three sides by water, has further exacerbated land markets. In the words of Paul Samuelson, «Nothing destroys a city faster than rent control – except bombing». Mumbai today has third world real estate at first world prices.

Mumbai needs to work around its strengths to rebuild and reinvent itself. Mumbai is home to Asia’s oldest stock exchange having its origins in 1878 and continues to be the ‘First City’ in the area of finance as it towers above all Indian cities but is dwarfed by its international peers.

In 2007, a committee was constituted by Government of India to draw a roadmap in making Mumbai an International Finance Centre (IFC). The committee found Mumbai to be falling short when compared to the competing global centres.

The report said, “It is particularly important to build transportation infrastructure in the form of a metro to augment the suburban railways, along with intra-city and coastal expressways that link the island to the mainland, so that the mainland becomes a viable alternative for residential and business decision making.”

Today, a total of 130-kilometre of seven metro lines constructed and becoming operational in phases will make commuting problems a distant memory in the Mumbai of 2025. Long gone will be days where one was forced to break a sweat before reaching his/her workplace as the city will offer air-conditioned public transportation and seamless travel to commuters. A 26 km trans-harbour link will make the Mumbai Metropolitan Region one landmass interconnected by bridges and metro lines. The coastal road will make driving a breeze compared to today’s bumper-to-bumper traffic. All destinations will not be more than 60 minutes away. The city will come closer than never before.

A tourist-friendly Film City and National Park will be widely enjoyed by tourists and residents alike. The rejuvenated lungs of the city will breathe fresh life into the Mumbai of 2025. They will offer residents and tourists alike an opportunity to let loose from the hustle and bustle of the city. The eastern waterfront will be transformed into an abode for leisure and recreation. Mumbai’s eastern waterfront is taking its first steps to rejuvenate this strategic stretch of land. The refurbished grand fish market at Sassoon docks which will become a part of every tourist’s itinerary. India’s only Opera House is now open and together with the NCPA provides an avenue to indulge for those with refined tastes.

The physical infrastructure will be comparable with the global best.

The writer is director – urban practice, Crisil Infrastructure Advisory