OPINION

Upgrading Bombay

April 01, 2006
kamla bhatt

I thought Bangalore was the only city in the midst of a major infrastructure upgrade. I was wrong. Bombay beats Bangalore hands down. Three months ago there was not much activity, but driving around Bombay in the last couple of days has been an interesting experience.

I am not referring to South Bombay or town, but to that part of the city that is north and east of Andheri, Juhu, and Bandra area. When we drove down Sahar Road (the road that leads to the international airport) and Saki Naka, Powai, and Ghatkopar area...the first thing that caught my eye is the debris. There are neat piles of debris on the road, and people are busy clearing the debris. The debris is from the demolition of illegal buildings that typically line the streets of Bombay. I think the pavement area was appropriated to build these illegal structures...at least that is what I think. Anyway because of the demolition of these illegal structures, the roads suddenly look broader and I can actually see the facades of some buildings that were hidden previously. Once they clear the debris, the next step is to broaden many of these roads, and add more lanes. I am not sure if they will be able to do anything before the monsoon season hits Bombay in a couple of months.

I also noticed that both Eastern and Western Expressways are also being upgraded. For instance, there is lot of work on Western Expressway. Mercifully, those huge potholes that typically appear after the monsoons will not resurface this year. I was acutally able to reach South Bombay from Powai under an hour. That is an achievement, considering that it used to take us close to 90 minutes to do the same journey not so long ago.

Talking of expressways and roads, there is lot of talk about the Peddar Road flyover. Apparently a new flyover is being proposed in this tony neighbourhood, and it is meant to help ease the traffic jam in this area. Travelling via Peddar Road anywhere after 4 pm is an ordeal. You can expect to be stuck in traffic for a considerable length of time. Back to the Peddar Road flyover...a local paper reported a couple of days ago that apparently Lata Mangeshkar protested the building of the flyover. And would you believe it newspapers had devoted a considerable amount of space on this subject and there were quotes from what seemed like every famous person living in this neighborhood? The singer had to issue a public disclaimer and state that she is not against the building of the flyover. It will be interesting to see how this flyover will pan out. The buildings that face the flyover will have an interesting view to say the least.

Bottom line: Bombay is undergoing quite a bit of upgrade and the only thing that remains is a nice coat of paint on many of the nice-looking buildings in South Bombay. I wonder how and when this will happen. I suspect that this is somehow connected to the rent control act that was implemented somewhere in the 1940s. Perhaps,the next thing to tackle is the rent-control issue. But, that is like opening a Pandora's box, and I suspect it will remain closed for quite some time.

Kamla Bhatt produces and hosts an Internet radio show http://kamlabhattshow.com. The show is also featured on http://www.podtech.net/indiatech/author/kamlab/ a Silicon Valley-based She blogs at http://kamlabhattshow.com/blog and http://ifyougoto.com, a travel blog. Life, People and Ideas is the underlying and unifying theme for her show and blogs.
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#1
Feel Good Times
April 1, 2006
06:24 PM

been to Calcutta recently?

The Communist's have realised there is money to be made in awarding contracts to your pals to build roads, repair roads...

Also, given the private development of real-estate, Calcutta is in the middle of a building boom ...

#2
Kamla
URL
April 2, 2006
03:48 AM

I have not visited Calcutta, but have heard and read good things about the city. The CM has embraced the capitalist or free market economy...

#3
Karan
April 2, 2006
03:58 AM

Not an embrace...more like a reluctant handshake.

What the CPI(M) endorses (below the radar) is crony capitalism - giving contracts to their friends, and access to those who give to party-funds ("friends of the party") and so "friends of the people"...

Not free-market exactly..

#4
Akshay
URL
April 2, 2006
08:00 AM

India on the whole is in the midst of a major infrastructure upgrade. Everything from ports to roads to highways. It still goes to see if it going to be a success or not.

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