Rebooting the city of dreams
Mumbai Next summit, a platform for exchanging ideas, was organised by the state government of Maharashtra in collaboration with Mumbai First foundation supported by the Union Ministry of Finance, on the February 6, 2015. It was a unique event in the history of Mumbai that ushered in a turning point for city’s revival. I was very fortunate to be a part of this young team in planning this event which is the first step towards rebooting my city that will allow Maharashtra to awaken from 15 years of economic slumber.
Through a slew of bold initiatives, Devendra Fadnavis, chief minister of Maharashtra unveiled his agenda to transform Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Minister of Urban Development Venkaiah Naidu and Minister of State in Finance Ministry Jayant Sinha endorsed the chief minister’s agenda to attract investment and boost infrastructure in Mumbai and assured full support to develop MMR.
This summit witnessed an unprecedented attempt by the state government to create an execution plan presented before the luminaries in the fields of business, trade and entertainment.
Moreover, the chief minister firmly proclaimed his intention to convert MMR into a leading financial, commercial and entertainment hub with a capacity to generate $50 billion revenues. Chief minister’s alacrity in leveraging Mumbai’s geographical advantage and business potential in the global financial market is noteworthy.
Major commitments were made by the state government to fast track and execute big infrastructure projects in the city. The coastal road project with a distance of 36 kilometres running from Dahisar to Cuffe Parade will be completed in two years. 10 kilometres of land will be reclaimed to construct the project and the necessary environmental clearances will be in place in the next three months.
Furthermore, the state government, in order to increase connectivity, gave its approval to build a connector from Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) to Chunabhatti near Eastern Express Highway and construct three flyovers to reduce congestion at Kalanagar connecting BKC, Bandra Worli Sea Link and Kherwadi in a year.
The Navi Mumbai International Airport is expected to be operational by 2019. The airport will also be a catalyst for developing NAINA, a planned township in its proximity.
The construction of Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL) that will facilitate decongestion in Mumbai by improving connectivity between Sewri and Nhava Sheva in Navi Mumbaiwill begin by the end of 2015.
Mumbai has 11 kilometres of Metro rail routes compared to 120 kilometres in New Delhi. The Centre has plans to allocate funds during the upcoming Union Budget for 2015-2016 to develop Metro corridors namely Charkop-Bandra-Mankhurd, Wadala-Ghatkopar-Teen Hath Naka (Thane)-Kasarvadavali and Colaba-Bandra-SEEPZ.
Interestingly, the chief minister gave a go-ahead to municipal corporations to raise funds by selling bonds to allow them to undertake various infrastructure projects. For quick clearance of the aforementioned infrastructure projects and other projects that have been pending for a long time, the chief minister has created a war room in his office to expedite such projects. The war room will monitor the progress of projects to ensure their timely completion and identify bottlenecks resulting in delays.
Chief minister stressed the need for creating more business hubs and economic zones in Mumbai similar to Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC). While BKC will be promoted as a global financial centre, Kalwa will also be developed on the lines of BKC. On the other hand, Kalyan will be developed as a commercial hub with special focus on manufacturing. The CM proposed to develop Bhiwandi as a logistics hub, while Vasai-Virar has been identified as a tourism zone. An entertainment hub will also be set up in Film City at Goregaon. These hubs will also be developed as smart cities.
Finally, Central government is very keen to transform Mumbai as an International Financial Centre (IFC) and is willing to support the state on this front. Mumbai enjoys advantages of demographic dividend, well-developed stock exchanges and trading platforms, a large hinterland market and IT support capability. There is no IFC operating in the Indian time-zone, resulting in a wide empty space of 8 time zones between the clusters of IFCs in the East – Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore and Sydney – and West – London, Paris, Amsterdam, Frankfurtand New York. As of today, Dubai is taking advantage of this time zone as a unique selling point for its IFC. For a predictable business environment in Mumbai, regulatory constraints must be addressed and taxation issues should be resolved thereby paving the way for Mumbai to become an IFC.
It is said that work well begun is half done. The initiatives announced by chief minister at Mumbai Next conference heralds a qualitative change in the way major infrastructure projects will be executed and the emergence of business hubs in different parts of MMR will elevate Mumbai’s status. Mumbai is the driving engine of India’s economic growth and with its well-oiled machinery of financial and infrastructure muscle. The city is on course to emerge as the one of the leading International Financial Centres of the world.