Thinking Mumbai Out-of-The Box
Pedro B. Ortiz, Urban Planner & New York University Visiting Scholar, during his recent visit to Mumbai presented his views on re-imagining Mumbai’s expansion.
Mumbai is growing at a slow 2% rate annually compared to other Indian metropolises growth rate of 5%, even reaching to 10% every year. This 2% low performance is due to the fact that Mumbai is congested and has no land for expansion. Local and State authorities might be happy to have to deal with growth figures that can easily be addressed, but this is detrimental to the economic and social wellbeing of the actual population and the population to be.
Nevertheless a 2% growth figure from a 23 million metropolitan population amounts to almost ½ million (460.000) new people very year. That is in the range of 120.000 new families, 120.000 new dwellings to be built every year. There is no land available at a reasonable price that will make the residential unit affordable for an average income family. The actual residential market is shrunk due to the land shortage. Prices are too high and only accessible to a limited upper-middle segment of the market. Only metropolitan expansion can generate land supply for the benefit of both the economy and people’s needs.
Addressing Needs & Managing Delivery For 120.000 dwellings at a density of 30.000 inhabitants per sq.km, Mumbai needs more than 12 sq.km of new urban land expansion every year. With a short-term program of 15 years that would be close to 200sq.km.
In Mumbai city, the land is congested, overcrowded and nonexistent. We see the results in the traffic gridlock that will not be solved by sea highways nor metro lines. This huge infrastructure expenditure only will reshuffle traffic jams location. The surrounding villages and cities of the metropolis can be considered, but it will take time as discussions, negotiations, agreements, have to be reached with each of them, and their management capacities will be a relevant item of the equation.
Navi-Navi Mumbai will make the best of all the potential metropolitan Mumbai holds.
Rail tracks are already there. Access will not rely on the car but on the commuter train, as in all developed metropolises around the world.
The benefits of future extended road network planned by MMRDA and presented by the CTS can be maximized.
The direct access to the new airport south of Navi-Navi Mumbai will foster the location of IT and advanced industries that will use air transport to position themselves in a world market.
The potential is there. Authorities just have to become aware of it. The extensive area open to development can house as much as 2 million people, in BUD units (Balanced Urban Development) of 125.000 inhabitants.
“By jumping across the bay and opening new land, Navi Mumbai has been a success. If anyone doubts this, let’s imagine Navi-Mumbai’s million inhabitants overcrowding actual Mumbai. The necessary expansion of Mumbai should take place a step further, beyond Navi-Mumbai, to the East, in the next valley, taking a step further Navi Mumbai’s success. That would be Navi-Navi Mumbai.”
More than 600.000 residential units can be served by the commuter train on central intermodal stations. Provision of social, green and administrative services on those centralities, along with offices and commerce will create jobs. Densities must be high, for the sake of sustainable urbanism and agglomeration benefits. Direct accessibility to the new airport will attract IT companies (E.g. California Silicon Valley).
How to manage the expansion project?
Land pooling is the key instrument. The project will be too large to be addressed in a single go and will have to be segmented. The project has to be led by the Chief Minister (transport investments), structured by MMRDA (planning) and CIDCO (Navi Mumbai experience) It has to be designed and segmented. Each BUD must be independent and compete with the others. Free competition. Then the BUD’s have to be designed and land chunks segmented again for the private sector mouthful capacity. For a 200 sq.km land pooling, chunks of 10 hectares each, will open the game to 2000 developing firms. A Win-Win situation for all.
My experience in land pooling for 20 years in Madrid as chief manager and planner of the metropolis has taught me that the right size is in the range of 10 hectares, 1.000 dwellings per development firm. But diversity of sizes has to be provided to allow a healthy economic diversity between big, medium and small companies.