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Can Mumbai cope?

July 03, 2007

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A couple of hundred millimetres of rains -- a regular feature in a city that is thankfully blessed with nature's bounty -- is all that it takes to bring Mumbai to its knees.

Overflowing drains, ravaged roads, water-logging, are annual sights in a city that boasts of the largest tax collection in the country, that boasts of a civic budget that is said to outstrip that of some of the smaller states in the Indian Union.

A state of affairs that should make the administrators hang their head in shame and give up governance for good.

Alas, but not in Mumbai, often lauded as the City of Gold, the City of Dreams. Here there is no accountability, public money is considered private property. The thousands of crores that are being pumped in to beautify the city are literally going down the drain, as the city lurches towards disaster. The city's infrastructure, set up in the hoary past, has been holding up pretty well in the face of a booming population; it is the present state of infrastructure, being set up by today's whizkids, that is the cause of the city fast turning into an urban nightmare.

The tax-paying, hard-working people of Mumbai don't want much, they never did. All they want are an end to water-logging, roads that don't need to be repaired after every shower and which facilitate easy traffic movement, drains that carry water out, not bring it in � all normal duties of the cash-rich civic administration.

Yet, the citizens' basic right is being denied to them, as dreams of a better tomorrow are spun by the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority, the nodal agency refashioning Mumbai under Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh's grand vision. Will it end in a nightmare?

Do you think the Mumbai Makeover plan, two years into its execution, will ever work? What do you think the administrators should do to prevent the city from falling off the brink? Do you think the city has a future in the face of stiff competition from the other cities that are fast pulling up their socks and trying to outdo Mumbai? Or are we witnessing the slow demise of Mumbai as the financial capital of India?



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