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Mumbai 2020: Dream or nightmare?
Sumit Bhattacharya in Mumbai | January 17, 2005 14:56 IST
Does the financial capital of India need a monument twice the size of Qutb Minar with a revolving restaurant on the top floor? Or does it need 3 lakh more hawker licenses and slum development? Does it need McKinsey to draw its development plan or does it need a dialogue between the haves and the have nots? Are slums that recycle the city's wastes better than unhealthy slum rehabilitation concrete cubicles? Is Vision 2020 the panacea for Mumbai's ills?
'Think city: The possibilities and realities of change in Mumbai' – a seminar at the National Centre for Performing Arts on Saturday – threw up many such questions.
Slide Show: Salaam Mumbai!
He refuted "the myth" of hawkers being freeloaders. "BMC [Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation] collects Rs 12 crore through license fees, while Rs 1,500 crore goes as hafta to police and civic authorities." These are figures from a Supreme Court petition, he said.
Pointing that a city cannot wish away its people, he asked why the authorities in Mumbai do not allow hawkers to operate under the development control rules. Imphal in faraway Manipur does, he pointed out.
Sanjay Ubale, in charge of the Task Force for Vision 2020, outlined a new Mumbai – cleaner, more beautiful, with more flyovers and radio-connected taxis. "I must feel I have a chauffeur-driven car in the city anytime I want," he said.
He denied Vision 2020 was an elitist plan for Mumbai. "Poverty alleviation would drive the services. The poor subsidise the rich in this city. The issue is not so much about housing. When slum dwellers are given homes they can't afford it [living there]."
Turning informal markets into formal markets is the key to growth, he said. In plain speak, that is turning the black market white. "When you go to a movie hall, you see the main window saying 'houseful' while tickets are being sold in black." The trick is to ensure "the main window" remains open, he said. There is a need to "enforce the rule of the law," he said.
Ubale said a Mumbai Development Fund will be set up to overhaul infrastructure and health facilities, create more jobs and improve housing and governance. As long as citizens feel the money is being spent rightly they will contribute, he said.
Mumbai, as it exists today, he said, was never planned. Bombay was a reclaimed creek where agricultural land had been turned to industrial use and now it was being de-industrialised for housing, he said.
The thinly attended seminar had many more such thickly debated issues, from the proposed Bandra-Worli sea link to the definition and benefits of globalisation.
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