Mumbai is a commercial capital of India but may never become a smart city because cleanliness touches a new low and despite having the Swachh Bharat initiatives taken by the Prime Minister, the city is stinking at most of the places. City’s open spaces need better use and they must be utilised in the best way possible. The value of open spaces is fast being forgotten and the government and private parties alike view that all such areas are places where buildings can be put up.
You name the precinct, colleges, University, the High Court, the stations, administrative headquarters and everywhere the trend is the same. More and more buildings are coming up. It is high time that the administration thinks of preserving what little open space it possess and puts it to good, creating alternate use. And in this it would appear that a more congested city than ours, namely Kolkata, can show the way.
Final nod for DP has been long pending and there is a scope for affordable housing and free open spaces may take shape soon. This particular developmental plan is pending since 2015 and there is hope for getting much need sanction along with draft development control rules. The initiative taken by BMC in taking up city’s development plan in good earnest is to be appreciated and for a change there is no opposition for such a step come in the wake of a 20 year blue print. Even though the plan is three years past its deadline, the controversial DP 2034 will be taken up and sent to the state government for its approval.
The plan is a long delayed one as it was to be released in 2014. It was once revised in April 2015 and now hopes to take a shape by allotting Rs 2,102 crore in this year’s budget to implement the Development Plan 2034, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has claimed to have integrated a blueprint with a civic budget for the first time in the country in this year. Affordable housing did not take up shape despite the real estate prices are on the down swing. The open space in the city is to be properly dealt in the best way possible. Let us hope that the state government will take up the various issues concerning city and make the city get all the poll promises. It is better than never as city development plan is taking a final shape.
The lofty goals of keeping the atmosphere pollution free is taking a heavy toll as we could not stop open defecation and thereby contaminating the ground water sources as well. Thus the World Bank’s initiative of sustainable development aim is taking beat as we could not control open defecation. Securing water should be our sole aim as we find that many countries have already withdrawn a very high proportion of their available water and India should follow suit soon to avoid shortage of drinking water resource. In India, we fail to understand the crux of the problem and we take everything for granted resulting in failure to address the health hazards in a proper way. We lag behind developed countries by 20 years and never care for picking the right approach for cleanliness within the city.
Mumbai’s open defecation problem continues to worry BMC as the atmosphere is highly polluted and it failed to provide a better environment and thereby avoiding spreading of diseases. The State Government was able to curb spitting to certain extent in public places as we are almost successful in avoiding plastic bags in the city to prevent clogging of drainage system during monsoon season. The secret drive to clear the dirt is out in the open.
We feel the need to prepare development plans with open spaces expansion being the basis of planning for Indian cities and towns because of worsening conditions of our urban life. Deteriorating quality of life, growth of informal sector, degradation and deprivation of open spaces, destruction of the environment and the abuse of the ecological assets including water bodies have rendered our cities into a regrettable state. Also the high cost of urban transportation, lack of housing for a majority of the people, inadequate and costly amenities, fragile services, overwhelming real estate thrust, colonisation of land and arbitrary decisions in urban development make our cities an arduous place to live in! Our attempts at city development are tragically fragmented, disparate, contradictory and almost always reactionary. There is a need for better use of city’s open spaces.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)