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Parties promise city the moon

If politicians are to be believed, Mumbai?s leap from jittery metro ? struggling to provide basic amenities ? to vibrant metropolis is just around the corner, reports Ketaki Ghoge.
None | By Ketaki Ghoge, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON JAN 28, 2007 02:07 AM IST

Choppers spraying insecticides, 24/7 water supply, power generation through garbage waste, night safaris in national park, water transport, swanky airports, insurance cover for all, free crematorium service and pothole-free roads.

This is not a blueprint for a futuristic Mumbai, but what our aspiring city fathers and prominent political parties are promising Mumbaikars on the eve of the civic polls.

If politicians are to be believed, Mumbai’s leap from jittery metro – struggling to provide basic amenities – to vibrant metropolis is just around the corner.

Over the next five years, political parties have assured citizens just about everything, from squeaky clean water supply pipes to great roads.

“The rationale for 24/7 water supply is that it saves water. It’s possible but requires a lot of planning and cannot be done in five years. Also, no one is talking about how to increase Mumbai’s overall water availability,’’ said urban planner VK Phatak.

All parties have assured residents of a continuous water supply.

While reiterating its stance on slums – the 2000 deadline – Congress has pegged world-class infrastructure (aka Shanghai, though the party reluctantly uses the comparison now) high on its list of promises.

While a swankier airport and speedier implementation of the Metro are a first, the real surprise is the promise to provide insurance cover to all Mumbai voters.

Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) – with just 14 corporators in the city – has been more imaginative. Other than choppers spraying pesticides, the NCP is keen on setting up a night safari at Borivili National Park, weekend flea market in South Mumbai, food plaza at Ballard Pier and ferry services.

The incumbent saffron alliance has reiterated many yesteryear promises and added some new ones to its manifesto. These include a special task force for protection of women and housing on salt pan lands. Then there are eyebrow raisers like a promise to get BEST to run the Metro and free crematorium rites in civic hospitals.

Meanwhile, Raj Thackeray released his party, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena’s manifesto on Saturday, dubbed as “his pledge”. Restricting it to by and large plausible promises, Thackeray has nevertheless assured citizens of no tax hike in the next 10 years.

However, NGOs are asking residents to steer clear from such lofty promises.

“Forget manifestos. We are asking residents to vote for the person and not the party. At the end of the day even ten honest corporators can make a difference in running the city,’’ said Vinay Somani, convenor of NGO council.

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