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Lessons from Mumbai

I just returned from a trip to Mumbai and was quite impressed by how much the city has improved in the last one year. While of course most of the city is still in really bad shape large parts have been improved in several ways

1. The sidewalks are walkable and attractive. I suppose from a long time utilities such as power,cable and phone etc. have been buried in Mumbai - so while they still have these boxes for electricity and telephone in some places they are not as obstructive as they are in Bangalore. And they have tiled them with attractive red and yellow concrete blocks. Finally, they have made them handicapped accessable, which is really quite remarkable.

2. Trees have been planted along several roads in a very sensible manner with provision for them to grow properly. And though has been given to what kind of trees should be planted.

3. Major roads have been concretized and smaller roads have been made out of the cement block cobble stones. And they are built to the end so that dust does not get thrown up and all the lanes are useable.

4. The major roads have these wide, high dividers which have grass or plants planted in them. But they have also made a provision for people to cross every 100 mts or so. So while there are a lot of people crossing it is not entirely haphazard.

5. They have something called Advanced Locality Management

which is a citizen body responsible for the immediate neighborhood. This seems to work wonderfully in certain areas ( Bandra, for example ) in keeping the place clean and functional.

6. There is a `Clean Up ! Mumbai' programme going on to spread awareness about garbage and and they seem to have good, proper, garbage trucks which work well and the city is much cleaner than most of Bangalore. Unlike Bangalore you dont find garbage piles at every street corner.

7. They have put in new bus stops in several places which are simple and comfortable and do not take up the whole footpath. People actually line up for busses.

8. There are a lot more police around - this may be a temporary post 26/11 phenomenon - but, for example, my taxi driver did not answer his mobile phone because there were cops around and it is illegal to talk and drive.

Of course Mumbai is a pretty awful place to live in  for most  of its residents  but the major difference between Mumbai and Bangalore is that there seems to be some civic awareness and feeling that something should be done to improve the state of affairs. I hope it doesnt take two disasters for Bangalore to wake up to its problems...

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