3 ways Mumbai completely failed us

by Free A Billion on 16th February 2017

It’s a wonder how land was patched together to form Mumbai, the city that caters to the dreams and aspirations of more than 2 crore people. Yet, today, the city of gold is in shambles and may fall apart if pace is not kept with innovation, writes Prasad Fadke.

1. Infrastructure for Pedestrians

As per an independent survey by online portal, CityLab, Mumbai sees about 1.5 crore walking trips every day. Often there is no boundary between where the vehicles are driven and where pedestrians traverse. Not just this, Clean Air Asia, an international NGO reported in 2013 that 57% of Mumbai’s road fatalities were pedestrians. These grim reports point out the sheer unavailability of safe walking spaces for Mumbai’s ‘foot soldiers’. Most pedestrians usually are from the lowest economic strata who have no other means of transport and it serves as a dark analogy from chess where the pawns are sacrificed first. Mumbai has been utterly unsuccessful in trying to address the problem of crossing. While subways benefit pedestrians globally, Mumbai has tried to build inconvenient and often dangerous skywalks. Usable footpaths are rare as well, as the ones constructed have been either encroached upon by roadside stalls or are simply too dilapidated to be used.

2. Failed Waterfronts

Every megacity has used its riverbank or shore as an asset, developing the waterfronts into aesthetic places and making them an inherent part of the city’s culture and life. Yet with its 62 km coastline with the Arabian Sea, Mumbai can only boast of a few places such as Bandstand or Juhu. Part of the problem can be seen in an anecdote reported by the Hindustan Times. 20 years ago, an architect presented a plan to the BMC with parliamentarian Shabana Azmi for enhancing the Juhu waterfront. They discovered that a mere 4 km stretch of beach had five claims, from the Mumbai Collector and the civic body to the department of environment and the Airports Authority of India. Most of Mumbai’s planning is in hands of not one but several authorities with the jurisdiction and powers often not being clearly defined which results in a collective mismanagement and inter-authority blame game.

3. Failed Governance

Mumbai’s own Hiranandani is a shining example of how a private developer can plan infrastructure. With broad footpaths and a well-planned drainage system, people rarely complain about walking in a Hiranandani Township. Perhaps if broken footpaths and roads ailed Hiranandani, their flats wouldn’t sell at a high price. The government, on the other hand, doesn’t risk losing profits. Moving away from haphazard public-private partnership and embracing a market system that works on profit and efficiency is what Mumbai needs.

Free A Billion3 ways Mumbai completely failed us02.16.2017

Originally published at www.freeabillion.com on February 16, 2017.

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