Mumbai is known as India’s commercial capital and the city contributes more than 35 per cent to the nation’s GDP. The metropolis is home to 1 crore and seventy lakh population. Many people relocate to the city in search of their livelihood. Rapid urbanisation of Mumbai has taken its toll as there is dearth of open space in the city. Moreover, increase in real estate prices have forced people to migrate from the island city to suburbs.
Social activist Abhijeet Rane said, “I think that Mumbai has become overcrowded and traffic is increasing. Many companies have been closed down in Mumbai and some others are shifting to Thane and Navi Mumbai. Migration has actually happened and skilled workers have shifted to Gujarat and other states.”
Today it has become very difficult for people to buy a flat in Mumbai city. Therefore, they are relocating to suburbs like Thane, Kalyan-Dombivali, Vasai and Virar. Migration is happening within the Mumbai metropolitan region. On the other hand, suburban areas like Thane, Kalyan-Dombivali has started witnessing widespread migration of people from Mumbai. Thane’s population has gone up by 29.3 lakh between 2001 and 2011. Moreover, 1.1 lakh people migrated from the island city to Raigad.
Criminal lawyer and NCP MP Majeed Memon said, “People’s financial position has become weak and real estate rates have increased. Therefore, people are shifting from Lalbaug, Parel and Dadar to Kharghar and Navi Mumbai. It will result in savings for them. Thus, lower middle class are shifting from Mumbai to suburban areas.”
Also, housing projects in the suburban areas offer better amenities as compared to city. Hence, people are migrating to suburbs. The closure of mills in central Mumbai is another reason for people migrating to suburbs. After the closure of mills several realty projects have come up on mill lands. Both residential and commercial establishments have set up shop on mill lands. Therefore, residents are relocating to suburbs in search of cheaper housing option.
Aneel Murarka, Managing Director of Mirachem Industries said, “Basically Mumbai is getting more populated. On the other side, it is more of green environment right now. Commuting in Thane is fast as compared to Mumbai. Therefore, people are shifting from Mumbai to Thane and other suburbs.”
The emergence of Thane as the most crowded railway station over Churchgate or Dadar is yet another indicator that the city’s population is gradually shifted from municipal limits of Greater Mumbai to far-flung suburban pockets. The northward movement of people was earlier established by the 2011 census which showed Mumbaikars were largely moving out of Greater Mumbai. South Mumbai recorded a 5.75 per cent drop in population between 2001 to 2011 the sharpest decline in a century while suburban Mumbai grew by 8 per cent. While there was 44 per cent population increase in the municipal limits of Thane in 2001 to 2011 other suburban pockets like Vasai-Virar (135.25 per cent), Badlapur (79.19 per cent) and Mira-Bhayander (56.5 per cent) too witnessed exponential growth.
Prateeksha Deshpande, a Sion resident said, “I saw an advertisement pertaining to sale of 2BHK flat in Thane. Initially, we had brought the flat for investment purposes. Later on, we decided to shift to Thane which has better amenities and good transportation network.”
Demographers also feel that Mumbai has reached a saturation point adding that population density is 20,925 per sq km in the suburbs and 20,038 in the island city in contrast to Thane district which has the population density of 1,157 per sq km.