By Ruma Dubey
This was something which should not surprise anyone of us living in Mumbai. Realty prices continue to remain unaffordable and infrastructure continues to sag under the pressure of the ever growing population; and way back in 2015, it lost its mantle as the economic capital of India to Delhi.
The Oxford Economics report has projected that in the coming year too, Mumbai will continue to trail. It says that by 2030, Delhi will move up to 11th spot while Mumbai will be at 14th.
As usual there are a lot of people smelling a “Modi controversy” in this too. Their point is that the BJP always wanted to move many headquarters out of Mumbai into Delhi and this is what they have done by shifting certain departments of RBI from Mumbai to Delhi. They go one step further and say that the actual game plan is to make Gujarat the economic capital and the route will be via Delhi. The news is that BJP wanted to shift the Western Railway HQ which is housed in Mumbai, actually to Gujarat but will do it first to Delhi and then once the controversy dies down, will shunt it to Gujarat.
Another rumour is that BJP is diverting all container business from Mumbai Port Trust to Gujarat for the development of that state. This would leave around 1,800 acres of land free for sale to an industrialist close the ruling BJP... The land is worth around Rs 75,000 crore."
Well, one can keep on stoking one controversy after the other but the hard truth is that Mumbai is really a very very crowded city and it has become virtually impossible for one to lead a good quality of life here. Poor roads, apathy of the BMC, goondagiri of the trade unions and fringe political parties, teeming crowds, very dirty; overall, a new visitor to the city will be appalled. On the other hand, Delhi has so much more greenery, wider roads, the Metro connects the entire city and more; yes, it is not as safe and secure as Mumbai is; political movements cause nightmarish traffic jams and things do not move as quickly as they do in Mumbai. Air quality in Delhi is bad but we would be naïve to think that it is good in Mumbai. Culturally, both the cities are poles apart.
Despite knowing all this, the political parties in Mumbai seem to be more interested in bickering and fighting over who can work and cannot work in Bollywood, whether dance bars should be opened or not. We can fight for these issues once the more pressing issues of roti, kapda and makaan are taken care of. Talking about makaan, Mumbai has actually become a gamblers den for realtors. Everything is always about the cost of land, development and ultimate price of the flat – majority of them matchbox size. Comparing ourselves to New York’s Manhattan or Tokyo is really being stupid; there realty is exorbitant but it matches with the quality of life in a metropolitan.
Survive is what we all do for five days a week and live is what we try to do on weekends. The harsh reality is that be it Mumbai or Delhi, both are bursting at their seams and unless the other smart cities come up and provide employment to people in smaller cities, this sad story will continue. We will continue to compare the kettle with the pan- who is blacker?