Mumbai, Aamchi Mumbai is getting transformed. More than 1600 infrastructure projects are being implemented at a cost of more than 25 lakh crore rupees.
The 14 lines of the Mumbai metro are spread across more than 200 km, with a further 21.289 km coverage approved and 136.4 km under the proposal. Of this, 11.4 km are operational while 169.061 km is under construction.
Other major infra projects include the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link, Navi Mumbai International Airport, Mumbai Coastal Road, Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor, Mumbai Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail, Goregaon-Mulund Link Road, and the planned underground tunnel between Borivali and Thane.
The development of satellite cities is also expected to boost the real estate markets in areas like Thane and Navi Mumbai. With the ready availability of mid-scale and premium residential properties, these areas are poised for another round of growth and occupancy once the infra projects come up. Navi Mumbai, in particular, will be an area of interest.
While admitting that these projects are necessary for the city, I wish some of the fundamental needs of a livable city should have considered and given priority. What we need is a people-centric approach. Currently, a road-centric approach is being practiced. Once you start thinking about people, you need to consider three important things.
- A network of greens
Mumbai has one of the lowest per capita greens in the world. The guidelines given by URDPFI-Urban and Regional Development Plan Formulation and Implementation suggest about 10-12 square meters of open space for every individual. We need an interconnected green network from one end of the city to the other. With this, people can breathe clean air, sans fear. When I suggested this idea to one the decision makers, 15 years ago, they laughed at me and said, ‘Even if you make green pockets, within no time they will get encroached and slums will be erected.’ But now, times have changed.
With updated methods of governance, it is easier to create greenery and maintain it.
- Prioritizing pedestrianization
“More than 55 percent of Mumbai’s population either walks or uses cycling as their primary mode of transportation. They deserve at least 10 percent of roads as walkways and pedestrian pathways. But today, most of the roads are being used to serve 1 percent of the population that drives around in private vehicles. We have to discourage the use of private cars and encourage public transportation and pedestrianization. This can reduce the usage of fuel and make our city less polluted.”
- Building decent houses complete with safety, security, and basic amenities
More than 60 percent of Mumbai’s population lives in the most inhumane conditions. On the other hand, there are numerous residential apartments that are constructed but are left unoccupied. Affluent people have more than 4 or 5 apartments. But, the working-class, laborers, and other service-class people do not have a single clean dwelling.
The primary reason for the rapid spread of the virus was unhygienic living conditions.”
“We need to create a society where each one of us, capable or incapable, strong or weak, rich or poor, educated or illiterate, can live peacefully and joyfully together in their own space.
We architects, designers, and engineers should collaborate with the government to transform our cities into most livable place with plenty of job opportunities, less consumption of natural resources, and emit less carbon.”