BJP’s development dreams must start with city

  • Ketaki Ghoge, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Oct 30, 2014 00:41 IST

For the new Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, transforming the city will be the key to ensure Maharashtra regains its lost sheen. And for this, the government will have to revive the Mumbai makeover plan.

Just over a decade ago (in 2003), the Democratic Front (DF) drafted a Vision Mumbai document that promised to transform the megapolis into Shanghai. In the 10 years since, the city did not undergo the famed transformation. What it got instead was some big-ticket projects taking off after delays, even as others were put in cold storage because of political rivalries, sloppy execution and planning.

There are now renewed hopes that the state’s CM designate Devendra Fadnavis can give the city a global status. Experts, however, felt this cannot be done unless the BJP government at the Centre and the state give it special status. “A review of the past 10 years reveals the model of governance for Mumbai has failed. Unless the state makes someone accountable for the city’s makeover, it will fail. This could be a bureaucrat, a former IPS or Army official who has the full backing of the CM,’’ said Narinder Nayar, chairman of Bombay First, an initiative of city corporates to partner with the state for the Mumbai makeover.

Nayar admits the Mumbai project got hijacked because of the political rivalry between the Congress and the NCP and a lack of ownership and accountability for the city. With 17 agencies associated with the makeover and no one in charge, the DF government left behind a legacy of failed projects.

The bureaucrat, who headed the Mumbai makeover in its initial stages, Sanjay Ubale said the government’s first priority should be to work on a land use plan for the city and then superimpose an infrastructure plan on it for the next 10-15 years. One would think this is a basic requisite to plan a city, but Mumbai’s development plan, prepared by the BMC for every 10 years, keeps no space for proposed infrastructure projects, including metro lines.

“Some projects such as the Mumbai Trans-harbour Link, the new airport [that can facilitate growth] and the second and third metro corridors should be given immediate priority,’’ Ubale added.

Experts agree “holistic planning’ will be key to getting things right. That’s easier said than done if there is no political will, an allegation bureaucrats make against the last government. “A inactive CM and a Union government that often did not respond to our requests also added to the delays. For instance, no city in India has a 40-year concept plan ready. We have it and are sitting on it. We begged for environment clearances for coastal roads, finalising the request for quotation for the new airport for months, but got no support from the Centre,’’ said a senior bureaucrat associated with the makeover.

Special priority like Delhi got for its metro project, speedier clearances and funds could go a long way for the city, he added.

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