The City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) of Maharashtra had planned Navi Mumbai four decades ago but the city has grown much beyond their expectations.

Now we hear that the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) is working on what they call, One-Time Planning. This mega plan, envisaging an expenditure of whopping Rs 12,821 cr, is being designed to take care of the city’s ever growing needs beyond the year 2020.

But this plan has a flaw. Navi Mumbai, as a city, extends far beyond the NMMC administered area from Dighe to Belapur. The area from Kharghar to Panvel on the east and to Uran in the south, does not come under NMMC and will be excluded from this plan. In fact, the much-hyped Navi Mumbai International Airport falls outside the NNMC limits. The one-time plan was presented to the Thane District Planning and Development Council with the promise that similar plans would be worked out for Thane, Kalyan and Dombivli townships and villages around the townships. But, there is no word about the Raigad part of Navi Mumbai.

While we see celebrations in the ruling NCP circles, the Opposition Congress-Shiv Sena combine points out that NMMC-administered area alone has 72 dangerous buildings and civic body that collects taxes hasn’t done anything to rehabilitate the families living in them. So much for the one-time planning! One sincerely hopes that the good monsoon will not come with bad news of building crashes.

Adi-Vashi has a counter point to this concept of one-time planning. How on earth can you have just one-time planning for a city in a rapid urbanization era? The plans should leave enough scope for future development. Else, we will keep digging roads for new bridges, expansion of flyovers – as it has happened at Kanjur Marg a decade ago and is happening at Mankhurd right now!

Entry gates, iconic buildings, bridges, flyovers and road expansion are all fine. A few contractors and some building material suppliers will make money. But what about the majority of the youth who will need jobs?

The city has to plan for economic activity and job centres. Will the infrastructure development ensure all-round development? This is one important question that the planners will have to keep in mind.

What about hawkers, slums and encroachers? The existing flyovers are sheltering unauthorized parking and encroachers. City roads are wide but they seem to be meant for hawkers and haphazard parking, and certainly not for smooth driving!

Vision Navi Mumbai 2020 has to look beyond politics and much beyond the NMMC area. An interesting part of the much celebrated one-time planning is that NMMC has decided to invite suggestions and comments from the public. The plan copies will be sent to all households.

Watch this space for updates.

We have been discussing the sorry state of less than 40-year-old buildings in this planned city while heritage structures built over a hundred years are standing strong and tall in Mumbai!

Even the 30-year old onion-potato wholesale market complex has been declared as dangerous. This market is the perfect example of terrible standards of construction.

Talking of Navi Mumbai beyond the NMMC area, residents from Panvel are upset with the autorickshaw driver menace. Many three-wheeler drivers disregard the meter and charge according to their whims and fancies. Looking at the ring route bus started by NMMC in Airoli,  even Panvel residents are also asking for similar service in their township.

Pre-monsoon is the time for hurried repairs and digging for concretization. The monsoon is hardly a week away. Will one-time planning ensure that the need for digging and repairing is minimized?

While de-silting is going on rapidly, the contractors must be forced to quickly remove the silt from the banks of the drains. With one shower, the silt will flow back into the drain and cause floods. One may say this is commonsense, but much of the work that the civic administration defies logic! For instance, the huge round-about at the busy D-Mart junction at Kopar Khairane has been removed couple of months ago. Now NMMC is rebuilding the traffic island, with of course reduced radius! Need we say more?

The new vice chairman and MD at CIDCO, Sanjay Bhatia appears to have started off his new innings in the right earnest. He has been meeting various stake-holders to take their views on the City. He has now decided to make all CIDCO Board decisions public. One hopes this will mark the beginning of transparency in the working of the Corporation, often accused of hush-hush deals!

B N Kumar

This is the 26th 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: mailbnk@gmail.com

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