Mumbai: Fast-tracked mega transport projects worth Rs 60,000 crore and reforms in housing space will give a big boost to quality of living and ease of doing business in this 'Maximum City', helping it shun an unwanted "maximum inconvenience" tag, industry leader Deepak Parekh has said.
Parekh, who commands huge respect in industry circles for being vocal with his candid views on policy matters, said Mumbai is a huge revenue-earner for the government but it can become unhabitable if immediate steps are not taken to improve the quality of life for its people.
He said some projects, like Trans Harbour Link, have been stuck for over a decade during successive past governments and it is heartening to see that the present Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has fast-tracked stalled projects by removing hurdles and has also launched new ones with a "long term vision" for the city and the entire state.
Referring to three major projects -- Mumbai Metro, Trans Harbour Link and Coastal Road -- being built at a total investment of about Rs 60,000 crore including a big component coming from international lending agencies, Parekh said, "These three projects will significantly reduce traffic in Mumbai in the next 3-4 years and the progress has been remarkable with Fadnavis' personal intervention".
"For the first time I can see, someone has a taken a concerted effort in all three key areas -- transportation, housing and infrastructure -- to improve quality of life in Mumbai and to make it easier to do business in the country's commercial capital," Parekh told PTI in an interview.
"All the three transport projects together would be around Rs 60,000 crore and a fair amount of money of that is coming from international agencies. They are also using best consultants and best contractors.
"All of these are being done through global bidding and all tendering has happened online and is completely transparent. This is just like at the central level, where all bidding is through e-tendering.
"Also, the targets are not like ten years and twenty years, we are talking about 3-4 years of time for completing these projects. Hopefully, I will see the three transport projects in my life time," 72-year-old Parekh said.
On housing, Parekh said a number of steps have been taken on a fast-track basis, including for re-development of over 100 years old chawls and to improve the supply of affordable housing, while the new RERA (Real Estate Regulatory Act) rules have been improved to make them more consumer-friendly without hurting the business. Maharashtra has become the first state to adopt these rules, which would come into force from May 1.
He hoped the city's municipal authorities also take steps to give a facelift to quality of inner roads by improving their tendering process and even impose hefty fines on contractors doing shoddy work, so that roads do not require repairs after every monsoon.
Asked whether he is hopeful of the things improving finally in a city known as 'Maximum City' where the traffic scenario has been worsening every year, he quipped it has been "the Maximum City with maximum inconvenience".
Mumbai is often referred to as the 'Maximum City' due to its fast-paced life that is always buzzing with a very active business, cultural and day-to-day activities.
Parekh said the three transport projects are also going to benefit the industry in a big way including the manufacturing sector for whom getting labour will be easier and they all will be using these roads.
"The chief minister has been very inclusive in his approach and he has been talking to people. I have been a resident of Mumbai, but I've never seen these many big projects being undertaken simultaneously that too involving different agencies and with multiple contractors.
"It is always important to give credit where it is due and Chief Minister Fadnavis deserves it," he added.
On the need to improve inner roads of Mumbai as well, Parekh said, "I sincerely hope that the internal roads of Mumbai become as good as the highways. Now monsoons are due in two months and still roads are not repaired.
"So, the municipality also has to use better contractors to work on Mumbai inner roads."
"Some of the inner roads are terrible. If you look at sea link, no work is required after the monsoons as they are proper roads, and the same can be done for inner roads. But that has not happened.. We hope that the BMC also improves its tendering, or they can also heavily fine the contractors if they do a shoddy work.
"Every year you cannot repair the whole network of inner roads in this huge city. All the roads go haywire during rains," he added.