If Charles Correa could have things his way, Mumbai’s iconic sea link would transform into an exclusive expressway for public buses every morning, with no private cars to slow them down during rush hour.
“It would let hundreds of people travel to work together in a short time, and take the pressure and pollution off the main city,” said Correa (80), Mumbai’s veteran architect and urban planner who is distressed by the city’s mindless move to create more road space for its growing number of private cars.
“Let’s give public transport the dignity it deserves,” he said.
Twenty-five years after he published The New Landscape, Correa is now out with his new collection of essays, A Place in the Shade: The New Landscape and Other Essays. The book was launched by industrialist Ratan Tata at Colaba’s Taj Mahal Palace on Wednesday.
The essays, written over the last 40 years, talk about the architect’s views on everything from the synergy that characterises a city to the need for urban developers to consider aspects of culture, resources and environment.
“Today political parties in our state governments fund their elections with money from urban real estate,” said Correa, who was appointed as the chief architect for Navi Mumbai in 1970 and chairman of the first National Commission on Urbanisation in 1985.
He was also awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 2007.
Correa suggests a few solutions for Mumbai’s urban dilemmas.
“A metro and monorail are not good enough to decongest roads — old-fashioned buses with increased frequency are the best,” said Correa, who also recommends a new express train line from the city straight to Panvel.
“If you create opportunities for jobs along this route, people will automatically start living there.”
But despite all problems, Correa cannot help describing his hometown as “the best city in India to live in”.