Alarmed at the stagnation in Mumbai's rate of economic growth and the seemingly irreversible deterioration in its quality of life, the MPs of the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance, which swept all the six Mumbai seats, have decided to move together to lift up the teeming metropolis from what looks like a terminal decline.
Two of the highlights of the strategy will be to rapidly develop Mumbai as a financial and other services hub and encourage industrial development in the hinterland spread across the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. The Shiv Sena and the BJP have three MPs each from the metropolis. Apart from this, the highly-articulate Sena MP in the Rajya Sabha, Anil Desai is also a Mumbaikar.
Desai told dna on Friday that "Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has urged the six MPs to lobby hard with the Centre for getting more funds for financing several key projects to improve the quality of life in the metropolis and also to revive economic growth. Uddhav is very clear that all the MPs from Mumbai should work in coordination". The MPs plan to draft a joint memorandum to be given to the Centre.
Sena MP from South Mumbai Arvind Sawant told dna that the Centre receives about Rs75,000 crore annually from Mumbai by way of various taxes. Now the plan is to get the Modi government to plough back a sizeable part of this fund for financing Mumbai's development.
Gopal Shetty, Mumbai north's BJP MP, who won by a margin of over four lakh votes, said: "Transport and housing are two key areas which we will be taken up with the central government. Once the government formation is complete, we will be able to know which minister to approach. I have been a corporator, an MLA and now I am an MP. I am well aware of the problems of Mumbai. We will definitely work as a team."
In fact, Shetty and another BJP MP Kirit Somaiya have already taken up with the railway administration the issue of growing number of railway accidents that were highlighted by dna through its "Rail Revolution" campaign.
In tandem with the city MPs, Mumbai First, an intiative floated by leading industrialists of Mumbai, has also decided to submitted a detailed memorandum to the central government. Vice-chairman of Mumbai First Roger Periera said the fine-tuned memorandum will be ready early next week.
Mumbai First has already prepared a detailed report on the basis of a study conducted by McKinsey with the help of the Maharashtra government and other agencies. McKinsey had observed in its report: "What is really needed is for Mumbai to undergo a change in its mindset; from thinking of incremental improvement and de-bottlenecking, it must begin to think of making step jumps towards achieving world-class status." Mumbai ranks 163rd in a list of 218 cities ranked by Forbes in terms of quality of life.
The growth in Mumbai's GDP has not really improved from the 2.4 per cent a few years ago against the national average of 5.5 per cent. Mumbai First has suggested that the city should learn lessons from the massive revival of Cleveland, Shanghai and closer home even Hyderabad and Bangalore.
"While most of the suggestions are feasible, the one related to the appointment of a CEO for Mumbai may meet with legal hurdles. But certainly there can be a compact committee with executive powers to coordinate the work of multiple agencies like MCGM, PWD, MSRDC, MMRDA, Central and Western Railways and Mumbai Port Trust," a senior civic official said. There is also a proposal to have a full-fledged secretariat in New Delhi to follow up the proposals submitted by the city MPs.
The task is tough. The NDA MPs hope that with a friendly government at the Centre most of the major schmes can be okayed and implemented.
MUMBAI FIRST proposal
Fully empowered CEO
Completion of Metro rail linkage
Four other key transport initiatives including an inner Ring Rail
Slumdwellers to contribute partially towards rehabilitation
Port Trust land to be freed for affordable housing
Pradhan committe recommendations for coastal security to be implemented
Mumbai has to grow at 8 to 10 per cent from the present 2-3 per cent