Just like we say “Every dog has its day”, similarly, we can say that every city has its time. Each city undergoes highs and lows. During its heydays, Kolkata (then Calcutta) was known as the “Cultural Capital of India”, “The City of Palaces” and “The City of Joy.” Gradually, things started changing for Calcutta. It was plagued by the challenges of urbanisation and finally became a victim of Urban Decay. People forecast that the same will happen with Mumbai in some year’s time. But there are glaring reasons why this can’t be the fate of Mumbai.
Depopulation is a phenomenon that we can see in Mumbai. The real estate rates have shot up in the main city and that’s why people prefer to stay in the suburbs. The numbers of slums or illegal building are increasing hastily in Thane district. Surrounding areas like Ambarnath, Badlapur, Kalyan are developing speedily so even if travelling is tiresome, many people are living here as property rates are affordable. However, shift in the population is not in large numbers. Even today many people come to Mumbai in search of livelihood. It is still hailed as the ‘City of Dreams’. Also, ghost towns or abandoned building do not dot the city’s landscape.
Unemployment is not a very big question. There are many jobs available here but the competition is getting crazier day-by-day. Also, people today, especially youngsters desire to settle abroad. It is not only the money that attracts them but the overall living and working conditions there are better. In a way, this is a boon for the city as the number of people the city can employ has reached a saturation point. Nonetheless, people who have moved to other cities like Bangalore or Ahmadabad for job temporarily are always trying to return to Mumbai. This is because even though other cities have better infrastructure, power and money is still in here.
Deindustrialization is slowly taking place in Mumbai. This was bound to happen sometime, the land that Mumbai has is obviously limited. All the other resources such as water, electricity supply are also under strain. There is a limit till which this can be stretched. So if industries are shifting to other cities, the burden on Mumbai will be reduced to some extent.
Kolkata was the capital of India earlier. When this power was taken away from it, the city started to lose its charm. Added to that, it got stuck with a string of politicians who didn’t work towards improving the conditions. Even now Mamata Banerjee isn’t taking any concrete steps and is busy playing blame games. Lack of good leadership, especially in a state where feudalism was at its peak, the social structure based on caste was very strong and hierarchy played an important role in the society, was the reason for the decline of Kolkata.
In Mumbai, on the other hand, the government is stable. It may not be the best or the ideal government that any state should have, yet it is far better than in other cities of India. Mumbai’s civic body – Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation is the richest municipal organization of India. The entire country looks when BMC releases its annual budget. It is still the entertainment and commercial capital of India and contributes approximately 20% to the country’s GDP. Until and unless money is being generated here, Mumbai cannot fall prey to the phenomenon of urban decay.