It is no secret that Mumbai has been receiving step-motherly treatment from Maharashtra's politicians for decades. There is no rocket science behind this -- a large majority of the state's politicians have little or no stake in building the city into a world-class metropolis. As a result, Mumbai has deteriorated into a city whose infrastructure is worse than a B-town. Its roads are in a pathetic condition, and its public transport is in shambles.
Therefore, the scepticism surrounding the new thrust by Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan to restore Mumbai to its past glory is valid. During the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh late last week, Municipal Commissioner Subodh Kumar and Chavan demanded that the Centre provide Rs 1.38 lakh crore for big ticket infrastructure projects, including a mass housing scheme (Rs 40,000 crore), the 22-km Mumbai Trans Harbour Link connecting Sewri with Nhava (Rs 10,000 crore), the Navi Mumbai airport (Rs 14,000 crore), the Colaba-BKC Airport Metro (Rs 18,000 crore) and coastal roads (Rs 6,000 crore).
While this is ambitious in every sense of the term, there is no denying that the chief minister and the civic chief will face several hurdles in getting these projects off the ground, leave alone completing them in a specified period of time. Mumbai's progress often indicates progress of various other sectors across the country, especially the service sector which has a direct impact on per capita income; and as a consequence, will affect the manufacturing and agriculture sectors.
Mumbai's comeback to its past glory is imperative not only for the state, but for the nation. To ignore this city -- even for the Prime Minister and the Planning Commission panel, to whom the CM is to present his plan -- would mean that India's biggest financial powerhouse has no future. It is a situation we have to avoid -- at all costs.