Ease of Living Index: Despite edge, Greater Mumbai gets middling score
The country’s financial capital has ranked eighth in terms of economic ability in the Ease of Living Index released by the Central government’s ministry of housing and urban affairs. According to the report, which was released on Thursday, seven cities, including two from Maharashtra, have higher levels of economic development and opportunities than Mumbai.
The parameter on economic ability looks at the level of economic development in a city, the economic opportunities it offers and the inequalities encountered by citizens in terms of economic development. The parameter has a weightage of 15% in the overall ranking, in which Mumbai has ranked 10th. According to the Ease of Living Index, the country’s “economic ability is the worst performing amongst all the pillars, with an aggregate score of 13.17”.
In terms of economic ability, among cities with populations of over a million, Mumbai has scored 32.12 on a scale of 100, falling behind cities like Pune (ranked 3) and Thane (ranked 5), which have scored 48.8 and 40.52 respectively. Topping the list is Bengaluru with a score of 78.82, followed by Delhi (50.73), Pune (48.88), and Ahmedabad (48.19). The Ease of Living Index also observed that urban growth lags in cities as the centres of economic activities have been limited to industrial hubs “that have traditionally developed as pivots of finance and services”.
While Mumbai’s score is above the national average score of 13.17, the country’s financial capital being ranked eighth comes as a surprise and may be an indication of problem areas in terms of its urban infrastructure. Dhaval Desai, vice president, Observer Research Foundation, said, “It is a surprise to know Mumbai has been ranked so low in terms of economic ability. However, this report is a mirror to Mumbai, that it is failing to attract young talent owing to the poor quality of life and unaffordable housing.”
Experts pointed to housing, high cost of living and traffic congestion as some of the factors that may have contributed to Mumbai’s low ranking. Madhav Pai, executive director, World Resources Institute (WRI), India Ross Centre, said, “While we have to look at the indicators, it is very clear that Mumbai is not able to attract talent because housing and commute are major issues. While the Metro network will solve one of these issues, housing is something that needs to be looked at seriously.”
Among the factors worth noting is the wide range of economic activity in Mumbai, with industries from various formal and informal sectors — ranging from manufacturing to services — having thrived in the city. Pankaj Joshi, executive director, Urban Design Research Institute (UDRI), pointed out that it isn’t clear exactly how the Ease of Living Index has computed its scores. “If we look at per capita tax collection itself, Mumbai will have an edge over other cities. The ministry needs to be more transparent on the basis of these rankings,” said Joshi.
Aaditya Thackeray, state environment minister and guardian minister for Mumbai suburbs, told HT in a text message, “We are working on upgrading ease of living.” He also said that he believed “ease and joy of living in Mumbai is actually the highest, irrespective of the norms for this ranking”.
While the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has previously said it is working towards increasing job opportunities in the city and the metropolitan areas with growth hubs and increased connectivity, metropolitan commissioner RA Rajeev said he did not wish to comment on the report.