Mumbai 2020

Come 2020 and Mumbai could emerge as a global financial city in the same league as London and New York. But only if its creaking infrastructure is upgraded, mass housing provided and the burdened transport system better connected. All this urban surgery must be regulated by a CEO.These were some of the recommendations of a committee on global financial centres set up by the ministry of finance. The report that was released last year by finance minister P Chidambaram was presented to civic chief Jairaj Phatak on Friday.If the report is implemented, commercial capital Mumbai has the potential to be a truly global player. Exponential monetary growth coupled with strong manpower are its aces but the downside is poor infrastructure. “Physical infrastructure such as residential and commercial space, power, water, waste disposal, transportation and communication has to be of the highest quality in order (for the city) to be globally competitive,’’ said Dr K P Krishnan, joint secretary (department of economic affairs, ministry of finance) and member secretary of the committee. “The city will be unable to cope with rapid growth if the growth is unplanned. There needs to be planned urban regeneration, redevelopment and expansion.’’ The committee has also recommended appointing a central monitoring agency to oversee the development and a CEO who will be responsible for the projects. Pointing out Mumbai’s strategic positioning in the world, Krishnan noted, “Mumbai is geographically placed in such a way that if work begins at 7 am and ends by 10 pm, it has the capacity to be in touch with practically all the major cities of the world while it is still daytime for them.’’ Reacting to the report, civic chief Jairaj Phatak said, “As far as we are concerned, we are on track to be a global financial centre by 2020. We are also likely to be among the top ten centres visa-vis Gross Domestic Product.’’ Experts in the field of urban development are however less optimistic. “Mumbai is the only city in the world with a population of 16 million in 200 sq km. It’s no use touting it as a global financial centre if some sections of society are left out in this haphazard development,’’ said housing activist and former Mhada chairperson Chandrashekhar Prabhu. “We should first provide basic amenities to each and every individual in the city according to his/her capacity to pay. There is no use appointing a central agency if all it is going to monitor is mindless development.’’

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