The great Indian story of urban-rural divide repeats itself in the planned city of Navi Mumbai, too. One the one hand, we have been witnessing the planned growth of the townships developed by the City and Industrial development Corporation (CIDCO), while on the other we have the village (or gaothan) areas witnessing an unorganized, haphazard growth.
As discussed by Adi-vashi earlier, neither the planning authorities nor the social scientists have paid attention to the rising problem of unemployment among the rural youth in Navi Mumbai as their families lost sources of income – the lands – to the government.
Some young men have taken to contracts and then to unauthorized constructions and some others have aligned themselves with political parties which are always on the lookout for `chokaras’ (boys) to help them win elections. The creation of the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) and the subsequent elections has only increased the demand for these chokaras.
The unemployed youth are kept busy during the election seasons – Parliament, Assembly and NMMC – but otherwise they remain idle. That idle mind is devil’s workshop is amply proven here with frequently reported crimes among some of the local youth – from petty extortions to chain snatching and even murders.
It is in this context that the Job Mela called Jeevan Dhara initiative by MLA Sandeep Naik must be appreciated. The mela, held last week, evoked a massive response with over 7,000 youth participating and over 2,000 getting their dream jobs. About 100 companies in and around Navi Mumbai also registered themselves for the recruitment drive.
As guardian minister Ganesh Naik put it: “Employment among the girls is a major issue. Brides are often asked as what they are doing as single income is not enough to lead a comfortable life these days.”
The Naiks promise to hold such drives often and this should also help them strengthen their political base.
Peasants and Workers Party MLA Vivek Patil has been on the forefront of the campaign to wean the youth from dance bars and he even led a big rally last week asking the authorities to close down the bars with dance girls and waitresses that, as he said, are spoiling the culture. It is time Vivek Patil also took up a social initiative to channelize the local youth energy and resources into something positive.
Better late than never! CIDCO on its part has also launched a project to train youth from the Project Affected People (PAP) for competitive examinations. CIDCO will also train boys for its fire brigades, apart from making them get set for posts in the corporation, banks and government and semi-government organisations.
Away from the scams and IPL spot fixing, some more positive developments brought in much needed relief to the people in the planned city. For instance, the woes of week-end commuters during mega blocks seem to end with the Central Railway giving connectivity to suburban trains from Navi Mumbai to CST via Thane. The “crossover” project is now ready for use. Whatever the technicality, commuters will heave a sigh of relief as they do not have to indefinitely stand at the highway bus stops in scorching sun or heavy rains, braving either dust or slush.
While Mumbai is still struggling to install CCTV network, Navi Mumbai has scored the distinction of covering the city with 268 cameras in an NMMC-Police joint initiative. Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar was happy to inaugurate the project and said such initiatives in Mumbai, Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad have not made much progress. The only development for these cities was that a delegation went all the way to London to study the CCTV network there.
Tenders were held up due to technical snags, Pawar lamented.
An interesting aspect of the Navi Mumbai CCTV network is that the annual lease line cost of Rs 2.59 crores will be borne by Reliance Jiyo Infocomm which is setting up 4G services in the city.
Builders are often accused of breeding corruption. But in a rare case, about 40 developers along with the managing committee of MCHI-CREDAI – Raigad met CIDCO MD Sanjay Bhatia and drew his attention to the rampant unauthorised constructions in Raigad area, especially in Panvel Taluka. The developers and Bhatia also discussed ways to fight corruption that is impacting the industry.
Rajesh Prajapati, President of MCHI-CREDAI – Raigad unit, said “Developers are victims and not perpetrators of corruption and all members have begun to follow the code of conduct. We feel that concrete steps should also be taken to end corruption in CIDCO..”
Well, a good beginning seems to have been made and let us hope for good results as well. This is the 24th in a series on Navi Mumbai by veteran media professional B N Kumar, a long time resident of Mumbai’s twin city.
He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
B N Kumar
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