Mumbai’s aura as the commercial capital of India is in danger of wearing thin because the infrastructure growth in the past couple of decades has not kept pace with demand arising from the population. The city has expanded geographically and is now recognized more as the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, but a good part of the work commute remains north-south. Pro
jects announced by the authorities get delayed for a plethora of reasons, and as a result often fail to achieve their desired impact on the life and work efficiency of the populace. What do the authorities have in their respective hats which they can pull out?
To discuss this, the FPJ-IMC Forum organized a panel discussion with experts at the Indian Merchants Chamber, Mumbai. The panel comprised Mrs. Ashwini Bhide, IAS, Managing Director, Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation; Ajoy Mehta, IAS, Municipal Commissioner, MCGM; and U.P.S. Madan, IAS, Commissioner, MMRDA. The event was moderated by R.N.Bhaskar of FPJ with editorial support from Pankaj Joshi.
The welcome address was given by Dilip Piramal, president, IMC, and the Vote of thanks by the President-Elect Deepak Premnarayen.
Mumbai: Ajoy Mehta Municipal Commissioner ,R. N Bhaskar Consulting Editor FPJ, UPS Madan Commissioner MMRDA and Ashwini Bhide Managing Director Mumbai Metro rail Corporation in Free Press Journal and Indian Merchant Chamber Present Panel Discussion for Mumbai’s Infrastructure at IMC . Photo by BL SONI
Dilip G. Piramal: A sound infrastructure foundation is necessary for the overall socio-economic development of any state and particularly of the premier cities. Many international companies are keen on collaborating with India on infrastructure including public transportation, renewable energy and developing smart cities.
Mumbai is Maharashtra’s and India’s main economic engine. Authorities have taken several initiatives during the last few years to promote public-private partnership in sectors like power, highways, ports, highways, airports, tourism, and urban infrastructure. But rapid urbanization and the population influx puts pressure on the infrastructure of cities like Bombay.
In the last 30 years, in the state governments, the majority of the MLAs have been from the rural areas, which has somewhat diluted the emphasis on a strong development thrust to Mumbai. You look at Hong Kong and Singapore, they are also cities absolutely in the sea, and you can see how they have grown. In the seventies, Hong Kong and Singapore were no less backward or advanced than Bombay was. But today they have really gone somewhere and we have been just discussing policies and all.
Today, headlines say that either you can cheap affordable housing or you can have green spaces. And I am totally in favor of having affordable housing. If 1% of India’s huge coastline doesn’t have mangroves, it is not going to really hurt the economy. In any city, you have to go away with some of the lake places if you have to have more urbanization. And I have lived all my life in Mumbai, so I feel very strongly.
FPJ: Good evening. For a long time Mumbai, even though it was a revenue generator of the country, has not seen enough investment in infrastructure. Delhi, which is not such a big revenue generator, saw more infrastructure come in and faster.
However in the last few years, money has started pouring in, new plans are being made, some projects have already started bearing tremendous fruits, whether the sea link or it’s the metro. The monorail is still halfway somewhere and the new metros and the new links that are coming up promise to bring a lot of vibrance to Bombay. But Bombay is much, much more than just a road, just a bridge, just a railway line.
Here we have the three people here who matter most to Mumbai, the Municipal Commissioner, Ajoy Mehta; the Managing Director of Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation, Ashwini Bhide; and the Metropolitan Commissioner of MMRDA, Mr. U.P.S. Madan.
What I’d request each of them, is to talk a bit about their plans for 15 minutes or so, followed by questions. As the answers start coming, maybe you will get an idea that infrastructure is not an easy job, there are no easy choices. The potential is huge, there is pain, but there is promise too. Could I request Mrs. Ashwini Bhide.