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Decongestion still a distant dream

mumbai Updated: Oct 14, 2012 00:52 IST
Prajakta Chavan Rane
Prajakta Chavan Rane
Hindustan Times
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None of the authorities concerned can assure the city that the two commuters, who lost their lives after falling from an overcrowded train on Thursday, would be the last victims of flawed planning and delayed implementation.

Thursday's incident has again highlighted the fact often pointed out by experts: Not only have successive governments failed to increase the capacity of transport infrastructure with the growth in the population that travels to the city from suburbs, but the state has also failed to create a new business hub to decongest Mumbai's old districts.

The regional development plan of 1973 had proposed that apart from Fort and Nariman Point areas, emerging business centres in Mumbai Metropolitan Region would be Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC), Vashi, Belapur-Ulwe Central Business District (CBD) and Jawaharlal Nehru Port.

These new business districts failed to flourish and it took nearly four decades to establish even some of them, say experts. "In the 1980s, Nariman point and Fort were awarded high floor space index so that industrialists prefer to stay in south Mumbai instead of moving out. Most tall buildings in Nariman Point such as the World Trade Centre have come up in 80s," pointed out Ashok Datar, transport activist.

Had the government given incentives to BKC, Malad or CBD Belapur in the 1980s, decentralisation would have been achieved long ago, he said.

The state has also failed to provide better east-west connectivity. For instance, a huge number of people travel between eastern and western suburbs via Dadar, the only cheap and quick transport option for them, putting tremendous burden on the trains.

"The only east-west connectivity project completed is Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road, but it doesn't have a mass transport system. The Santacruz-Chembur link road and Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar metro link are way behind schedule. The Mumbai suburban railway capacity became saturated in 1970s itself. What substitute for mass transport has been developed by the state?" asked Datar.

DM Sukthankar, former chief secretary of Maharashtra, said: "Attempts to create parallel economic hub in Navi Mumbai were made but providing connectivity to these hubs is a must. Also, shifting one or two industries or wholesale markets is not sufficient. Industries with diverse job opportunities should be shifted along with health, education, and entertainment facilities."