<u>Infrastructure</u><br>Ill-planned construction spells chaos
The torrential rains that struck Mumbai recently have exposed infrastructure inadequacies, leading to a total loss of Rs 2,000 crore. One wonders whether the metropolis has any alternative to its faltering rail or road network or drainage system. When the government knows that basic infrastructure is the backbone of any metropolitan city, why is the financial capital of India way behind in providing good infrastructure facilities?
The successive governments in Maharashtra have formed policies and plans for improving living conditions in Mumbai, but they couldn't effectively put their plans to work. Mumbai contributes one-third of the nation's revenue in terms of tax to the Centre, but unable to provide better facilities to Maharashtra's capital.
Recently, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced immediate help of Rs 500 crore to Maharashtra, but only Rs 50 crore have been allotted to Mumbai. Is this amount adequate to meet the needs of the city which has undergone a traumatic experience in the recent floods? Strangely enough, the state government itself is confused about the amount of funds the city requires.
Projectmonitor spoke to a few Mumbai experts who revealed how governments in Maharashtra failed to provide better infrastructure facilities.
Vimal Shah, Secretary MCHI, says, "As a city Mumbai is well planned, but it has done little to update its infrastructure, and the blame for this goes to the Central and state governments. For the past few months politicians have been talking about Mumbai as a Shanghai, but if our basic infrastructure is not upgraded how will the state government succeed in its plan."
Mahendra K. Sanghi, President, ASSOCHAM, observes, "The poor infrastructure of the city has become so pronounced that it puts a question mark on the ambitions of the government."
Niranjan Hiranandani, Managing Director, Hiranandani Constructions, comments, "Sixty-six per cent of all the construction activity in the city is unplanned, because construction takes place wherever the land is available. So it is obvious that Greater Mumbai is totally unplanned."
Mumbai is still using the outdated sewerage and water lines, and the civic body doesn't have provision for storm water drainage. Hiranandani added that all of us should realise that Mumbai contributes Rs 50,000 crore annually to the Centre's treasury, but surprisingly, the infrastructure is not keeping pace with its high national status and immense growth.
The monsoon calamity is a pointer to the fact that time has come for the state and Centre to come out with a new master plan to make Mumbai disaster-free and a world-class metropolis.
[8 August 2005]