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How to make Mumbai live-able again?!



Historically, Mumbai has had India’s best infrastructure & utilities grids. I remember as a child (& as a teen actually), across my family, Mumbai would be hailed as THE city that does not break down and as one having excellent public transport, civic infrastructure & utilities grids.

Chaitanya Chinchlikar, Vice President, WWI

We almost NEVER had power outages in Mumbai. I had not even seen an inverter until I was 26 and that too I saw it in Delhi. And I do not remember Mumbai ever flooding before 2004.

Post 2004, things started to go downhill for Mumbai. And badly. Anyway, for those asking why the city is breaking down repeatedly – here are the facts.

Please see this – a comparison of Mumbai with some of the other global major metros…

 Population Growth Additions per day
 (in millions) (in millions)
1991               9.90
2001             11.90               2.00                    547.95
2011             18.40               6.50                 1,780.82
2018             23.50               5.10                 1,996.09
1990               6.80
2000               7.24               0.44                    120.55
2010               8.06               0.82                    224.66
2018               8.91               0.85                    291.10
1990               7.32
2000               8.01               0.69                    189.04
2010               8.18               0.17                      46.58
2018               8.40               0.22                      75.34

From 9.9 million in 1991, the population of Mumbai in 2018 is 23.5 million. Just to compare – the population of Australia is approx 25mn.

From 2010 to 2018, Mumbai’s population has grown at a staggering rate which ranges from 6 times to 26 times of any of the other 2 major global cities compared.

Between 2001 & 2011, Mumbai has had a net addition rate of ~1800 PEOPLE EVERY DAY . Since 2011, the rate has worsened – to ~2,000 PEOPLE EVERY DAY. This is downright CRAZY!

Mumbai city, most of which is reclaimed land is one of the densest cities in the world.

Despite our public transport being the best in India (still not as great by global standards), our railways carry 3 times the load that they should, buses carry twice the load that they should, and on top of that we have an ever-decreasing ratio of area:cars, especially with the avalanche of Uber/Ola vehicles.

No city can handle this much influx.

Given the situation, we need to:

  • Stop new people from moving into Mumbai. Several political parties have tried it. It is both operationally unworkable (as it is impossible to physically police city limits) and politically unworkable with the ‘freedom of movement’ argument invoked by those who have no stake in Mumbai but want to gain political mileage. So, if you can’t stop them, then we need to try as much as possible to thin out the influx. That can happen only when other towns / cities / states develop at a much faster rate than Mumbai does and people either stay where they are or move into cities other than Mumbai.
  • We need to quadruple Mumbai’s resources. 4x as much money as currently is spent will be needed for infrastructure & resources. That is almost nearly impossible, but we definitely need it.
  • We need a professional City Management team. We need better, smarter & more efficient people who will hence need to be paid appropriately. Yes, the BMC is inefficient and incompetent & corrupt. But even if they weren’t, no city can handle this kind of net influx of people and continue to run as smoothly & efficiently as before the influx. the inefficiency & corruption of the BMC just makes things worse.
  • Mumbai needs to create within itself, mini-towns, with self contained eco-systems, that limit people movement. South Mumbai, Bandra, Andheri & BKC are a few such examples.
  • We need to ensure a massive reduction of individual / private transport vehicles on the road and an increased usage of public transport. There is NO way that the existing public transport can take any more load. Hence the metro is super critical for the city. We need is ASAP and it needs to be super efficient and we need it to run through the densest parts of the city so people can get to it on foot.
  • Only if all of the above is done, will Mumbai continue to be liveable. Else, it will continue to break down as it has over the past decade & a half. Flooding, stampedes, potholes, bad traffic, etc etc will continue.

The only reason why Mumbai has not completely broken down is the inherently great quality civic infrastructure, public transport and the utilities grids. However, sooner or later that will give in too. Then what will we do?

Let’s hope better sense prevails and steps are taken to make Mumbai liveable again. Hopefully while I’m still around!!!

ALSO READ : Top 10 Most Affordable Homes Located In Mumbai Metropolitan Region

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