Maximum City

Maximum City

Mumbai-Chaitanya Kejriwal

Mumbai. The financial, commercial, entertainment capital of India, the land of dreams, the city that never sleeps, the name synonymous with Bollywood. Marine Drive, Gateway of India, Victoria Terminus, Haji Ali Dargah are the landmarks one would associate Mumbai with. Also, every food enthusiast’s dreamland. The popular Mumbai local, red public transport buses and the kaali-peeli autos and taxis as we like to call them, give the city a unique charm of its own. With an urban population of over 22 million and growing, the city ranks 1st as India’s most populated cities and 5th in the world. With the ever-increasing employment opportunities in the city and the ease and options of making a living, the population is expected to rise to a staggering 27 million by 2030 at a constant growth rate of 10.27%.  Figuratively, Mumbai already has the title of a city that never sleeps, but literally, is yet to get there. But the question is – Is it ready?

According to reports, it is estimated by the year 2030, 32.26% of India’s population will be in the age group of 15-34 years, or as we somewhat call it youth. It is undeniable that a substantial amount of this would be living in Mumbai, be it for whatever reason- educational or financial. To this age group, although not particularly, the idea of having a 24*7 functional city would sound very appealing. The option of walking into a multiplex in the middle of the night, the thought of shopping as and when convenient do seem like things we want to be able to do. What we’re missing out here is the thought of having to consider the numerous factors that would have to be kept in mind before we could talk about this vision turning into a reality. Let’s briefly look at what needs a thought.

Malls, restaurants, clubs or any establishment of commercial activity would need an addition of another work shift altogether if kept open throughout the 24 hours of a day. Permitting something remotely close to this would create thousands of vacancies overnight leading to additional, rather exponential migration. Would the city be capable or ready enough to handle this surplus, I don’t think so? Adding the increase in property rates to what they already are, it would be rather impossible for this influx to get suitable accommodation, only leading to an increase in population living in slums/slum-like conditions. Unless the city magically expands and the government caps the prices of property rates in Mumbai, providing shelter to these migrants looks nothing more than a distant dream. Besides that, a state survey said the per capita residential area currently available in Mumbai is just 8.3 square meters. Decreasing this further would only create more problems, not to forget the health hazards it would carry. Things that deserve a mention here besides these points include the already brimming public transport in the city. One cannot pick a time to avoid a crowded Mumbai local simple because all are now the same, regardless of what time it is. The buses. Old, creaky and heavily loaded. Unless there’s a heavy investment that goes into an addition of public transport services, getting from point A to point B would be nothing less than an achievement of its own. But is there place for more? Roads are already jammed with the existing and exponentially growing vehicles. The addition and acceptability of radio taxis in the city have had a huge impact on the traffic in the city. One wouldn’t be surprised to see just as many yellow number plates as white ones today.

All this on one side, security on the other. A survey conducted among females living in Mumbai suggested only 55.52 percent of them wouldn’t mind walking alone on the streets at night. This only goes on to say that there’s much that is yet to be done in that aspect. The thought of having a universal emergency number – 108- for any kind of help in Mumbai talked about sending help within 8 to 12 minutes. This would certainly make it better if only there was a green corridor for that particular vehicle to go through.

Let’s say a change as big as this was to be announced overnight, the implementation would seem more like a tedious task to do at first, undoubtedly.  Granting permission to remain open and active throughout the night would need stricter scrutiny of the maintenance of law and order regularly to make sure some kind of regulations still exist and apply to these businesses.

Not all is bad though. The economic, financial gains it would give the country would certainly help India get higher recognition on the world map. The employment would eventually be the bread-butter for many. There are many such places that have ample place but remain shut after the commercial use during the day, these places could be well planned and well used for numerous purposes during the night hence increasing the value of the land and making more efficient use of the area available. As examples, we could learn from cities like Cairo, Montevideo, Beirut, Malaga, and Zaragoza, both in Spain, which captured the top five in a survey that ranked the best 24*7 active cities. The vision of a 24*7 Mumbai could be something to look forward to, provided, the numerous factors behind it are worked upon. Inefficient, unplanned ideas are bound to end in turmoil and a waste of rather important resources.

 

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