Plan for second New Mumbai panned

Plan for second New Mumbai panned
Mumbai, India

Despite the limited success of a new city to draw people from India's overcrowded financial capital Mumbai, the authorities are planning to build a second New Mumbai, inviting flak from experts and activists alike.

"We are thinking of (setting up) a new city at Nhava (across the harbour from Mumbai) on about 60 sq km of land, to decongest Mumbai," said Mr Sachin Ahir, the junior housing minister of Maharashtra state, of which Mumbai is the capital.

"This is a dream project for us (but) it is still at the planning stage," he told The Straits Times.

This is despite the fact that another new city, Navi Mumbai, also built across the harbour from Mumbai some 40km away by road, has failed to attract jobs and people from the congested city that is also India's film and fashion capital.

Navi Mumbai, after four decades of development from 1972, has only 1.5 million people to Mumbai's 17 million.

"Indians do not like to relocate unless the quality of social and cultural life is as good," said transport expert Sudhir Badami, explaining why Navi Mumbai did not succeed in attracting significant numbers of people from Mumbai.

Despite its chaos, "most people are willing to hang on in Mumbai. So I am not sure if any significant migration will happen to the new city", he said of the latest project.

Yet, something needs to be done about the burgeoning metropolis and its overtaxed infrastructure.

Census figures show Mumbai's population grew 0.5 per cent every year in the decade to 2011 over the previous decade. But the population of cars, motorbikes and other vehicles grew 2.8 per cent annually between 2001 and this year to 2.5 million.

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