Last week, the Bombay High Court had asked the state government to think about developing new cities around Mumbai to decongest the city. The government was also asked to develop infrastructure to cater the needs of the area. At present, Mumbai is developing at a faster pace due to various housing projects being launched in the city. Migration of people from other states is creating a need for housing in the metropolis. However, the existing stock of housing is insufficient to cater to the needs of the migrant population. The fast-paced development of Mumbai has come with its own share of problems. Already there is a dearth of open space in the city as every area is being encroached.
The High Court might have made a good recommendation to the state government to consider developing new cities. Many satellite cities exist around Mumbai like Kalyan-Dombivali, Navi Mumbai, Vasai-Virar. Navi Mumbai was formed in 1971 to ease the pressure off Mumbai. On one hand, the government was planning for expansion of the city on its outskirts, on the other hand, they were also pushing for development in south Mumbai. Government offices continued to remain in south Mumbai and business establishments too were reluctant to shift to Navi Mumbai. Even Nava Shava port which was developed as an alternative to Mumbai Port Trust has failed to generate enough employment opportunities. Due to high property prices in Mumbai, people are unable to buy a home in the city and therefore, they have relocated to distant suburbs. On one hand, people may have purchased homes at cheaper rates as compared to Mumbai, but there is a lack of enough job opportunities in these areas. Therefore, residents of these towns have to commute to Mumbai and undertake a two-hour commute to reach the city.
Most of the towns surrounding Mumbai are still known as better residential areas but fare badly when it comes to employment. Therefore, the government while planning new cities must ensure that adequate employment opportunities are created along with better housing options. There is also a need to develop the social infrastructure of these areas. Steps must be taken to build schools, hospitals, recreation centres nearby so that people don’t need to travel long distances for their day to day needs. The government also will have to improve the infrastructure of these areas. Better roads must be built for ensuring a smooth commute. Also, the connectivity of the area with Mumbai must be improved.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)