Wishlist: What Mumbai wants in 2014
Here's a 10-point wishlist Mumbai wants at the start of 2014
A Letter to Mumbaikars from 2114 A.D.
The year 2014 was dramatic, wasn’t it? You had new governments in Delhi and Mumbai. You almost got all the infrastructure and public transport projects promised to you. You almost got the good roads. You almost got the 24-hour water supply after five years of stable monsoons. You almost felt secure once again while walking on the streets. It was a year of almosts. But it was also election year. So, you know...
And then, it was the year that MiD DAY published its annual Mumbai Wish list. It asked for things your city had forgotten: open spaces, affordable homes, better public health, more airport terminals, better public transport, better civic amenities, more focus on school sports, etc. And you said, “Yes, why shouldn’t we get all of this? After all, we are honest, tax-paying citizens.”
And you raised your voice. For, it was the year of hope. For, it was the year to reclaim what is your basic right: a livable city. Did you achieve all that you wished and fought for? No, you didn’t. But you made a start. And that’s the important thing.
Here's the 10-point wishlist
1) Homes for Mumbaikars
One thing that every Mumbaikar wants is a home at an affordable price. The last few years have seen real estate prices in Mumbai moving upwards, even though there’s hardly been any sale. With election year, the real estate market has high hopes, because the instability in the current government has led to inefficiency in the real estate sector.
With files being stuck, we wish the government moves faster on files and projects are approved speedily. Builders should not charge us on super built-up area and we must pay only on carpet area. The rates are not only affordable but realistic too. We wish that MHADA comes up with more flats at affordable rates. We wish builders don’t lie to us and the Navi Mumbai airport must take concrete shape this year.
2) Let East meet West
We wish to commute in the country’s first monorail between Jacob Circle-Wadala-Chembur. Travelling from Chembur to Wadala has been a rough ride due to the traffic on the Sion-Panvel highway and Dr Ambedkar Road. With the opening of the monorail for the public, the journey will not only become hassle free, but will also cut down travel time.
We are weary of the deadlines MMRDA has been giving about the 11.07-km Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar Metro rail and in 2014, we expect that the city’s first metro rail that connects the eastern suburbs with the western suburbs becomes operational. It will drastically help in reducing the travel time. We Mumbaikars also wish that the Santacruz-Chembur Link Road (SCLR) that connects the Western Express Highway with the Eastern Express Highway is finally operational.
3) Save our health
Ailing patients are greeted with paan-stained walls and windows. There is a stench, much like a filthy public toilet, that emits from almost every nook and cranny, and garbage is strewn all over the premises. This is the environment at the three major civic-run hospitals in the city for several years now. Cleaner public hospitals still continue to be a pipe dream for the aam aadmi.
While the civic body has been conducting several campaigns for cleanliness and hygiene in the city, their hospitals are lagging behind in these aspects. One can only hope effective measures are taken. The blood on call scheme, in which blood bags are delivered to those in urgent need within a 10-km radius, was supposed to be launched in August, 2013. However, while we have bid adieu to 2013, the scheme, which could benefit patients who are in urgent need of blood, is yet to be rolled out.
4) Say no to drink driving
One wishes to see quite a few changes in the way we commute. To begin with, the services of black and yellow taxis and auto drivers should improve. The government claims to give electronic ‘for hire’ boards atop these vehicles and speed governors to prevent over-speeding, while the drivers must have a common colour uniform.
Refusals to ply must come down and people can use these modes of public transport much more easily than they do now. We want more taxis and autos on road and hopefully, this will happen as dead permits are to be revived. Road traffic sense should improve amongst Mumbaikars and there should be lesser cases of drunken driving, more following of traffic rules and an end to jaywalking completely.
5) Comfortable, safer train commute
Lesser crowds at railway stations and inside trains are always on our wish list. The railways are promising more escalators at railway stations and more local train services running on tracks. Air-conditioned, local trains, hopefully, should be seen this year.
Security provided to women at railway stations and inside trains should improve with more CCTVs inside ladies’ coaches and better enforcement of RPF and GRP. The Harbour line should improve with better services, longer trains and better connectivity. Newer stations should come up and additional fifth and sixth lines should be completed between Thane-Diva and Santacruz-Mahim.
6) Let us park and walk
We wish that every vehicle should have a space for parking. Be it in a multi-storey parking building, under the flyovers, or in the bylanes of the city, the BMC should make parking available at affordable rates. With the new parking decisions and high prices mentioned in the policy, it is time the BMC thought about the common man.
With the demands for parking space, the BMC should also guarantee the security of these vehicles. Footpaths need to be free for pedestrians. As of now huge swathes are encroached by hawkers, shanties and small shops. One wishes that footpaths are maintained better, as paver blocks are usually broken or not fixed in a proper manner, resulting in uneven surfaces.
7) Community kaleidoscope
One wishes that the decision on re-criminalisation of gay sex is removed this year. The Supreme Court upheld Section 377, in a decision that shocked many who were upbeat that this archaic law criminalising gay sex between two consenting adults will be part of history.
Now, we wish that the community, who has yet another battle on its hands, eventually triumphs and India at least takes a small stride forward with reference to gay issues. Meanwhile, even while the legal aspect is one thing, one can wish for more empathy and support for the gay community from society at large. Let them become more mainstream than ever this year and let us see less discrimination of the overt or covert kind.
8) More cops on the street, please
The sensitisation of policemen while handling cases pertaining to women and senior citizens is a must. The Men in Khaki should stop harassing couples in places like Bandstand at Bandra, on charges of obscenity. Also, the police should maintain a database of senior citizens staying alone in the city, and monitor them regularly.
Visibility of policemen on the streets is mandatory and Mumbai would like to see that increasing in 2014. The government should clear the proposal of CCTV cameras that has been making headlines in newspapers. Also, the burking of FIRs from one police station to another should be dealt with stringently so that all the complaints are entertained equally.
9) Improve school sports
Mumbai added another Ranji Trophy their 40th to their decorated cabinet at the MCA office. Within a few months, the city’s cricket is in doldrums. Mumbai flopped in most of the junior tournaments and now is gasping for survival in the Ranji Trophy. Will 2014 see a change in attitude and determination to keep Mumbai’s flag flying high? We wish! We wish school sports are taken more seriously by the authorities.
A lot of Mumbai School Sports Association-organised football and hockey matches clashed with the District Sports Office tournaments, which left the kids having to represent their school in both tournaments. Last year, there were numerous cases of players being injured, but no first aid facilities were available at the grounds.
10) Better use of open spaces
In an urban jungle, we can’t ask for much. But Mumbai could sure do with better use of its existent open vistas and sea-facing promenades. From Horniman Circle to Five Gardens, Worli Seaface and Carter Road, our culture and space-starved folk deserve to be treated to convenient hang-outs, as well as pop-up festivals, live dance and music acts, and activities that will engage every age group, a la the annual Kala Ghoda Festival.
In 2014, we’d love to see this wish get a much-needed shot in the arm by the powers that be by offering support and initiative for festivals across the city and its vibrant suburbs, so we can finally stake claim to the ‘cultural city’ tag.