| Mumbai has no more room for guests:
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
Mumbai: “Mumbai no longer has any room for guests,’’ Maharashtra’s
chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh said in the state legislative assembly
on Friday, adding that the city had witnessed a 36% rise in migrant
population in the last 15 years.
Deshmukh, who was recently forced to suspend his drive to demolish
post-1995 slums at the intervention of the party high command, said,
“We had to do so because of certain political compulsions. We were
committed to our election pledge. But we can’t keep extending the
cut-off year. We will have to draw a line somewhere.’’
The much-publicised ‘Operation Clearance’ was stopped after Mumbai
Congress legislators pointed out to Congress president Sonia Gandhi
that the party was committed to extending the cut-off year for regularising
illegal slums in the city to 2000.
Deshmukh’s speech on Friday was a clever move to reiterate his autonomy
as CEO of Maharashtra keen on Mumbai’s makeover as an international
commercialtourist hub and a haven for global investors, said Vidhan
Emphasising the need to preserve Mumbai’s already fragile balance
betweenits population and the amenities available, Deshmukh called
for “harsh decisions’’ in the larger interests of the city. “All these
years, Mumbai has shared the burden (of a burgeoning population).
But we can’t take it any more,’’ he said, pointing out that New Delhi
has 137 vehicles per kilometre while Mumbai has 684. He said tax-payers
in the city were paying for amenities which slumdwellers used for
free. A staggering Rs 25,000 crore and a 500-acre plot would be needed
to house the 2000-2005 slum dwellers, he said.
The CM said people from elsewhere in the country were welcome in Mumbai,
but they should not build slums. “There are 35,000 slums on water
pipelines. Imagine what kind of water we Mumbaikars have to drink,’’
he said. Moreover, there were 60,000 slums on the footpaths, he said.
Making a passionate plea to save Mumbai from the onslaught of “outsiders’’,
he added, “Let us sink our political differences and spare a thought
for this great city.’’ He was cheered by the entire House, including
Congress MLAs from Mumbai.
“Mumbai has fulfilled our aspirations. The metropolis has given us
all that we asked for. Now, it’s pay-back time. It’s time to ask ourselves
what we can do for Mumbai,’’ he said.
Praising the Centre’s urban renewal scheme, Deshmukh said Maharashtra
expected Rs 10,000 crore from the Union government for the city’s
infrastructure development, for which a whopping Rs 36,000 was required.
“The rest of the money can be raised by way of global tendering,
BOT and publicprivate participation.’’ Deshmukh said the state expected
to receive the Centre’s contribution in the next five years and
added that the state would give a matching grant. “It’s for the
first time that we are making such a massive provision for Mumbai
city.’’ Stating that water transport would go a long way in easing
Mumbai’s traffic problems, Deshmukh said Phase-I (6 km) of the Bandra-Worli
sealink was likely to be completed in the next five years.