Mumbai is no more the city i grew up in, as humorously described in Marathi by P L Deshpande.
The city, like New York, Paris or Rio is a cosmopolitan melting pot of people and cultures from all over. Mainly Maharashtra, Goa, Gujrat, Karnataka and Mp.
In fact it is the most unique of cities. Waves of people of different communities came to settle here starting from the Sindhis ( post independence) settling in south mumbai and mainly Ulhasnagar (deep suburb) to South Indians in Matunga to the potters and tanners in Dharavi(Kherwadi a legacy of B G kher) to Punjabis’ in Andheri to Behrampada or mini Bangladesh, the city has seen a never ending stream of migrants.
The Chieftains(Politicians) in Delhi have never bothered about Mumbai so long as it has given them a continuous revenue stream in Taxes, Political Donations and Slush funds and taken in migrant population without complaining.
The local politicians have been no less and ethics and principles have been long forgotten in favor of hard cash from slum redevelopers (builders), vote banks for votes and appeasement politics. Secondly Mumbai has no voice as most politicians really only bother about their constituencies like Latur, Baramati etc. Plus their lives in Mumbai are spent in restricted areas – places like Mantralaya to Sahyadri guest house, and their plush bungalows at Malabar hill and walkeshwar… where the roads are spotless, water is abundant and power cuts are unheard of and lastly Slums? how dare anyone allow them in such areas? still a few tiny slums do exist rather defiantly, hugging the shoreline. Ditto for the honorable Judges of high court who, in their landmark judgment – hold the State responsible for housing the never ending minions of disenchanted and dispossessed that land up in Mumbai in search of a life, never mind if there is any space left or if it can bear the humongous expenditure involved in solving what is essentially a central problem.
The last 10 years have been the most traumatic because of unplanned massive redevelopment and proliferation of suburbs and mass influx of unskilled or semi skilled migrants from UP and Bihar who now constitute 40% of local population, landing up in the already congested zopadpattis (slums) like dharavi or the city’s periphery like its forest areas and coastal regulation zones, something that has changed the fabric of this city. The Central govt has done precious little in the mean time in terms of infrastructure, basic amenities, sanitation and low cost housing except building castles in the air.
Pollution and El nino, illegal settlement in the Borivli National Park areas and massive cutting of mangroves have made the relatively mild climate of Mumbai quite extreme. We have flash floods, extreme record breaking hot summers and winters ? 22*c is winters for us if we are lucky we get 15/ 20*c.
Space is a big issue here and there are no public spaces as land demarked as gardens , libraries etc are all being given by the municipality to private parties (politicians croonies) for management.
Delhi culture is slowly seeping in and lawlessness has increased, as exemplified by the new yr molestation phenomenon, and the way the motorists in general and taxi drivers in particular behave on the roads.
Though i am an eternal Optimist, i have a deep fear that this great Maximum city is on the decline and if steps are not taken in time things are going to get worse.