Friday, March 10, 2006

The Great Mumbai Squeeze

The other day, the newspapers were full of the Supreme Court judgment on the mill land in Mumbai. The Court has cleared the sale and development of 600 acres of mill land. While this is good news for space-starved Mumbai and will have a deflationary impact on real estate prices, there is also some cause for worry.

As it is, Mumbai has very little in the name of open space or parks. Here was a golden opportunity to use some of this land getting released to create something of this nature but that is now lost. As the Hindustan Times puts it – “The social repercussions of entire generations being brought up without recreation grounds are horrible to contemplate. Children develop invaluable social skills while playing team games, which thousands will now be denied, virtually for life.”

A scary thought and one that makes you wonder whether Mumbai is really the best place to bring up children. The problems are manifold:
  1. Lack of recreation space is a huge problem. Parents are pressured to send their toddlers to playschool as early as 18 months because there is no other place for them to play and interact with other kids. Even when they do go to school, entire schools are built on land that would have been the sports area in schools in other cities.
  2. Mumbai is one of the most polluted cities in the country and the world. That can’t be good for developing respiratory systems.
  3. The overflowing traffic on the streets of Mumbai too places a lot of limitations. Even taking Ayaan to Jogger’s Park (about 2 kms away) can be an exercise in futility. You spend almost an hour getting there, parking and coming back. It hardly seems worth the effort!
  4. The city also puts a lot of pressure on everyone’s time. Working parents spend hours commuting from home to office and back – precious time that could have been spent with their children instead.

    I fell in love with Mumbai when I moved here 6 years ago and thought I’d never want to leave. Mumbai has much to recommend itself to the single, young woman looking for a good time without having to look over her shoulder all the time. But as you grow older and have a family to think about, you start to really notice the paucity of valuable commodities such as space, time and even clean air and the love affair tends to sour a bit…

2 comments:

  1. The same concerns are every where in india..

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  2. I agree with Rachna. All big cities are heading the same way. But Mumbai has the sea which is a big attraction. Enjoy your family to the maximum irrespective of where you are.

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