The phenomenal growth in population and the subsequent increase in the number of vehicles in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) in the past decade has prompted the state government to focus on fast-growing areas in the region that are grappling with a poor transport system.
Last week, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis asked the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) to prepare a comprehensive mobility plan (CMP) for seamless connectivity throughout the region.
The new plan will incorporate the MMRDA’s previous Comprehensive Transportation Plan (CTS), along with inputs from the CMP prepared by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), for Mumbai.
Last year, the MMRDA had invited tenders to revisit the CTS plan it had prepared in 2008, as many of the proposed developments had not been implemented.
MMRDA additional commissioner Sanjay Sethi said it has started the process to hire a consultant to prepare the CMP.
Meanwhile, transport expert and urban planning consultant Sulakshana Mahajan sounded a note of caution. “The new plan will be old wine in a new bottle with new figures showing an increase in the severity of traffic woes. If the authorities were really serious, they should have executed recommended projects in the CTS prepared by MMRDA earlier [in 2008]. The lack of political will and bureaucratic apathy have ensured the projects remain non-starters.”
The population of the MMR, including Mumbai, is more than two crores, which has led to a significant growth in not just commercial activities, but also the residential sector.
However, no concrete measures were taken by authorities to provide proper inter-connectivity between these cities and Mumbai. A majority of the population living in the MMR travel to Mumbai for work and they have to rely on the suburban railway network.
In addition, public bus transport undertakings in the region have failed to provide a sound alternative. Therefore, many choose private vehicles because of the lack of convenient and comfortable public transport modes, which ultimately had adds to the traffic woes.
As a major share of business activities in the region have largely remained in Mumbai, one can see people rushing to the city for jobs.
Now, the authorities have planned the Navi Mumbai Airport Influence Notified Area (Naina) and growth centres along the Virar-Alibaug Multimodal Corridor (VAMC), which will help shift the focus away from Mumbai. However, these plans are in the initial stages and are not likely to become operational for the next five to 10 years.