Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Tuesday, Apr 27, 2004
Industry & Economy
Navi Mumbai pulsating with business activities
THE most ambitious plan to decongest Mumbai was the one to create Navi Mumbai (New Mumbai), an alternative urban settlement on the mainland that would remain accessible to the island city.
Conceived in the 1970s, Navi Mumbai was seen as the answer to many of Mumbai's problems. This was to be a city that would contain all that Mumbai offered but would be clean, orderly, efficient and well planned. The plan was to motivate businesses in Mumbai, which were finding it increasingly difficult to expand, to move to this 21st century city.
And the expectation was that Mumbai, which was bursting at its seams, would get decongested and concentrate on redeveloping itself.
For many years after it was created, the place wore a somewhat desolate look. The huge chrome and stone suburban railway stations, which were designed to cater to the well-heeled corporate crowd, were barely used. The broad roads and high-tech buildings started looking a little run down. But with the construction of residential numerous complexes, Navi Mumbai has now come alive and has begun to draw a significant amount of interest from the very people that once shunned it.
Built by the City and Industrial Development Corporation of Maharashtra Ltd (CIDCO), it is spread over 344 sq.km. of land on the mainland across Thane Creek. As a result of meticulous commercial and residential space planning, today it has 1.3 million people who opted to relocate to its pleasant environs.
When Navi Mumbai was conceived, one of the primary objectives of the Government of Maharashtra was to provide quality housing at affordable prices. The other objective in creating another city was also to create
Today, 67 per cent of the families that live here own their homes and of the working population, 63 per cent is employed within the city, says CIDCO Chairman Mr Vinay Mohan Lal.
Housing in Navi Mumbai is available for people of every income group,
including the affluent non-resident Indians (NRIs). One of the main reasons why houses here became popular is that land was sold at concessional prices for educational establishments. "Good schools and colleges are sought after, and many Mumbai families have found that the new township has met their demands in more ways than one," says Mr Mohan Lal.
"Moreover, the roads never get flooded and the environment is clean. People have realised the merits of this area."
With regard to civic amenities such as water and power supply and waste disposal, the planners have taken care to provide independent facilities for
each node. For instance, aerated lagoon-type sewerage treatment plants have been developed for each node and the effluent discharge conforms to the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board standards. Reliable and adequate power supply has been provided to the city, keeping in mind future needs.
Similarly, water supply systems have been developed with prudence. Potable water is supplied in abundance; distribution networks with storage tanks have been established in each node.
For those who still have to commute to Mumbai, the Government has set up a mass rapid transit system. This covers 200 km; spread over six rail
corridors and 30 stations. The corridors connect Navi Mumbai with Mumbai and Thane. The Mankhurd-Panvel rail corridor has been commissioned. The
initiative to promote water transport between Mumbai and Navi Mumbai was aborted owing to some internal problems.
The idea was to operate hovercraft services between the Gateway of India and Belapur, which would cater to South Mumbai businesses. Efforts are on to resume the services.
According to Mr Mohan Lal, the city's progress is based on economic centres. In the heart of the city, a central business district has been developed on 575 hectares. "It is 20 times larger than Nariman Point, the central business district area in South Mumbai."
There are already several economic and Government administrative activities concentrated in the area. The Reserve Bank of India, nationalised banks, the Konkan Bhavan, the Cotton Corporation of India and the Konkan Railway have offices there.
Navi Mumbai is strategically located near the Mumbai-Pune expressway and therefore is well connected to the Mumbai-Pune knowledge corridor. In fact, the "New Millennium City" in Navi Mumbai is becoming very popular and sought after. It forms a major part of the "Knowledge Corridor'' that spans Mumbai and Pune.
Adding to many facilities of the area, the approval for an international airport had been given recently to the State Government. On the cards are a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Dronagiri and two massive townships.
With people flocking to the area to set up home, Navi Mumbai has clearly got a second lease of life. Hopefully, it will help Mumbai get one too.
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