Saturday, September 5, 2015

Mission Mumbai - part 1: unworkable structures

Mumbai at crossroads - a World Class city or a disaster?

When your car crawls on the Western Express Highway, know that the Highway Road is constructed by MSRDC, but not the bridges. The bridges are constructed by MMRDA. As you curse the potholes, know that the maintenance of these roads and bridges is the work of PWD and not of those agencies that constructed them.

Then as you turn right on the JVLR or SCLR road, you might like to know that these roads are made by MUTP consisting of the Govt of Maharashtra, Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation, Indian Railways, MMRDA, BMC, BEST and World Bank.

Going further, one turns left into a BMC road and still further into roads that might be constructed and maintained by Central Govt bodies like the Railways or the Airport Authority. So many agencies constructing and maintaining roads! Whew!!

Add corruption and poor monitoring to the multiplicity of authorities and one can easily understand the reasons for abysmal roads, traffic jams, pollutions and potholes every season.

This is just a small example of how Mumbai is managed! Even a fourth standard student will tell you that it is virtually impossible to manage anything with this multiple structure, let alone a global city of 16 million people. Reminds me of a joke about how a foreigner leaving Bihar said that he started believing in God because, who except God, could be running the state. Well, replace Bihar with Mumbai and the joke could have the same impact.

But it is not just God that is responsible for the reasonably smooth functioning of Mumbai, but its wonderful, compassionate, disciplined and resilient citizens, a well managed police force and an excellent bus and local train services. Mumbai continues to function till now, not because of its political system and politicians, but in spite of them.

This begs the question about why the state created parastatal bodies like MMRDA, MSRDC, PWD, SRA etc to take up major infrastructure projects in Mumbai when it should be BMC’s role to run the city? Why is BMC not maintaining all the roads?

Well, except for the last few months, historically, the State and Mumbai have had different parties running the government. Before the last Assembly elections, Cong-NCP used to run the State Govt and SS-BJP the Municipal Corporation. And as we all know, Mumbai is the cash cow where all the “BIG” projects and money is. So, the State politicians too want its hand in the pie!

In a series of weekly articles in English, Marathi and Hindi, I shall try and bring your focus on the structural flaws in government, quality of governance, flawed urban planning, Mumbai public transportation, how contracts are awarded, corruption by political and administrative class and other aspects of Mumbai and its mismanagement.

In 1985, Rajiv Gandhi had said that “Calcutta is dying”. It might be too premature to say the same for Mumbai, but we are heading for some serious trouble. In my articles, I shall try and offer solutions - political and administrative that can regain Mumbai to its rightful place as a world class city.

Now, let us take the map of Mumbai and with black, blue and red pens draw the boundaries of the MP, MLA and Corporator constituencies. Then take a green pen and draw the boundaries of the 23 Municipal  Administrative wards beginning from 'A' Ward in Colaba to the ‘T’ Ward in Mulund. Now with another color draw the boundaries of each police station and with another color draw the boundaries of each Post office. You will be surprised to see that none of the boundaries coincide!
How can one possibly plan in this manner? How can there be inter- department coordination? What happens in emergencies?

A city of 16 million has just 23 Municipal administrative wards, some of them having over 50 sq km area and more than 7 lakh population. How can one office be able to handle the innumerable services that municipality delivers for such large areas and such a huge population? Even assuming that we had a 24x7 running, fully trained and manned staff with excellent systems (which is far from reality).No wonder, common Mumbaikars feel let down by the municipal services! 

Lots need to change. Incremental changes will not be adequate. If Mumbai has to become a World Class city, some major decisions need to be taken and fast! A holistic and integrated approach is much needed.

I seek your support and inputs. A visionary approach is needed and it will come by various engagements with the people. Let us convert this into a dialogue that has the potential to draw a blueprint that will enhance the quality of life of Mumbaikars.

Mumbai can wait no more!!!


Vinod Chand said...

Absolutely hitting the nail on its head. You need to add the layers of administrative control and multitude of departments to complete the picture...

mayank gandhi said...

Thanks Vinod. That will come in the next parts. Do give me your views on the same, if you desire on

ankit said...

Nicely explained sir !

Unknown said...

Absolutely Rightly Said n Expressed the Picture of Administration intersections of managing Mumbai,
Some where a Spinal Cord of Administering Mumbai must be established so that the Summation of the Work for Mumbai is seen on the ground efficiently n Effectively.

Let us Plan n New Structure to Change this Rotten Intricate working which only is there for Generation of corruption.

Unknown said...

Nice article sir!!

Mumbai attracts immigrants from rural areas seeking employment and a better life. Despite government attempts to discourage the influx of people, the city's population grew at an annual rate of more than four percent a year. Many newcomers end up in abject poverty, often living in slums or sleeping in the streets. An estimated 42 percent of the city's inhabitants live in slum conditions. Some areas of Mumbai city have population densities of around 46,000 per square kilometer—among the highest in the world.
As a result of Mumbai's size and high growth rate, urban sprawl, traffic congestion, inadequate sanitation, and pollution pose serious threats to the quality of life in the city.

Rajen Makhijani said...

Instead of these issues, people are bothered about stock mkt and hindu pride.
Khaddey ki buniyaad pe market aur dharm, dono nahi khade sakte..

Ralson said...

Hi Mayank,

As a Mumbaikar, my observation has been that most often in a 2,3,4 etc lane road the extreme left lane is either illegally occupied by car parks, roadside vendors etc thus reducing the length for vehicles to travel. If you see in Amsterdam, there they have trams as a mojor form of transport along with cars and buses and offcourse bicyles.. If in Mumbai, that extreme left lane is rather put to 'Tram' use, that not only adds a major transport option without actually reducing the existing length available to cars and buses, but also does away illegal occupancy and brings a good look to the city. Such trams should be given right-of-way at traffic signals and intersections. Once it passes, then allow regular traffic movement. I think it does not call for a major investment from the Government and can be implemented rather quickly with immediate impact on traffic congestion reduction. What say?

Windswept Man said...

Very well articulated and an excellent initiative

Unknown said...

Dear Mayank Ji,
Congratulations for writing such a good article. It opens our eyes how badly we are managing ourselves. But you will agree with me that it is not that our administrators / politicians do not understand these problems. It is the vested interest or corruption in the system which doesn't allow good decisions to prevail. you have also given the hint for the same in your article.
To solve the issue of corruption or develop a corruption free system we require a political setup witch itself is corruption free and that is the reason AAP has taken birth. But if we have to achieve success in long term or in entire country, it is important that AAP is developed from its infant stage to its youth in a manner that it does not deviate from its path like Congress the Party responsible to achieve our freedom. I feel before we decide to contest the elections any where, kindly try to make an ideal setup of the Party when it is small. The virtues we are visualizing in our system should be imbibed in our Party. Democracy, discipline,financial transparency,RTI etc. should become the norm of the Party before it is expended and thrown open for contesting the elections.

Unknown said...

Brilliant article Mayankbhai....Thanks for highlighting such critical issues which an average Mumbaikar tends to ignore, Its a complete eye opener...Awaiting articles on you insight & vision on Mumbai.

Kryon Channel (India) said...

I agree Mayank.

We complain about traffic but we are the Traffic.


Peak hours means specific time zones in the day
e.g Morning 8.30 a.m to 11.30 am
Evening 5.45 to 9pm

How can we use the 12 to 5.30 slot times to our advantage.

We can stagger the timings of offices. Say for e.g Churchgate offices can open at 10.00 am;
Nariman Point 11.00 am. BKC ....

Many Schools and Colleges implement it. Morning 7 am to 1 pm and afternoon 1.30 pm to 6.30pm.
Hotels and BPOS implement shifts

Why not offices?

There is a solution to everything provided
1) we can think and implement Out of The Box solutions
2) utilize time to our advantage.

Dr. Arun Sharma said...

Each of us should post this article in your other links like facebook, twitter, linkedin or any other sites you are all connected to. This must become known to one and all . Write to your contacts in Mumbai and ask them to spread the word.Wait for more constructive suggestions.

Unknown said...

quite an eye opener Mayank Bhai. You have done nice R&D on the sad state of affairs in mumbai

Anonymous said...

Thanks Mayank for the concerned insights.
Your para
"Now, let us take the map of Mumbai and with black, blue and red pens ..... You will be surprised to see that none of the boundaries coincide!"
definitely deserves to re-created as an animated visual (if not already done).
An image is worth thousands of words. I do hope you will find an appropriately (tech-animation-internet) skilled person(s) off your network to do this
and thereafter all of us can help that animation go viral on social media, to increase the awareness, as a starting point. Cheers, VK [at] bardwaj [dot] in

Unknown said...

Graphic portrayal of redundancy and overlap in administrative jurisdictions of multiple bodies. Please see interesting article by al posted on my FB Mumbai which compares urbanization in India and China, and provides alternative ways of thinking of rural urban connect. Mumbai can wait no more - so right!

Danialonline said...