Saturday, August 10, 2013

south Mumbai will become a suburb.

South Mumbai population falls 18% as poor move to Govandi, Malad

MUMBAI: The Chembur-Govandi stretch in Mumbai's east and the Malad-Dahisar region in the city's west experienced the highest population growth of about 17-20% between 2001 and 2011, reiterating the dominant roles of real estate and redevelopment in shaping the financial capital's demography.

A ward-wide analysis of the latest Census data shows that while the population leapfrogged in the recent past in the city's relatively poorer northern pockets, it shrank in the prime civic wards in south Mumbai. Also, where the Vile Parle-Jogeshwari-Andheri (E) region—known as K-East civic ward—was most populous in 2001, today it is the wards containing Malad and Kurla. Each now houses more than 9 lakh individuals.

Demographer D P Singh of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences said the Census findings reflect an all-too-familiar reality in Mumbai: people move wherever they can afford or get a home. "Many slum rehabilitation projects have come up in areas such as Govandi and Cheetah camp in Trombay in the east and Malvani in the west. They thereby attract those looking for affordable homes as well as migrants who traditionally settle in slums there," he explained.

As stretches in the city's north grew more populous, areas in the south became less inhabited. The Census analysis shows the population in the Dhobi Talao-Bhuleshwar area fell by 18% from 2001 to 2011 and by 17% in the Worli-Chinchpokli stretch. "Residences have disappeared from these south Mumbai areas. The mill lands have largely been transformed from industrial to commercial spaces," said Pankaj Joshi of the Urban Design Research Institute.

The Census analysis shows up the ghettoization of urban poor in the civic wards of Malad and Govandi-Mankhurd. The population increase in these fastest-growing wards seemingly happened in their poorer areas. In M East ward, which comprises Chembur and its neighbouring areas, population grew by over 19%, taking the total population to 8.08 lakh in 2011. But a closer look reveals while Chembur itself became more populous just by 13%, the poorer Govandi-Mankhurd-Mandala stretch got more inhabited by 20%.

The same disparity occurred in the P North ward or the Malad-Malvani-Dindoshi belt as well. Although the overall ward population there swelled by over 17%, the Malvani slum stretch saw a 30% increase in the decade.

Leena Joshi who is in charge of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences' M-East project, attributed much of the demographic shifts to government-initiated relocation of people to particular pockets. "Around 25,000 to 30,000 families from across the city have been relocated to the Govandi-Mankhurd stretch and a similar number are still to be relocated," she said.

Joshi lamented that the government-driven migration was not matched with infrastructural development, in the form of water facilities, schools and hospitals. "Conditions in the relocation and rehabilitation buildings in many parts of the city are worse than in slums," she pointed out.

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Will South Mumbai Become the Suburbs?

November 9, 2011 1:07 pm by
The definition of ‘suburb’, according to Merriam-Webster:
a) an outlying part of a city or town.
b) a smaller community adjacent to or within commuting distance of a city.

And one wonders, if these are the definitions, where is the city of Mumbai, and where are the suburbs today?
“Anais Rieu, attache de presse from the Consulate General of France, told the Times of India that their decision to move base to BKC in December 2010 was taken since they noticed the centre of gravity of Mumbai moving towards the area.”
Rieu was speaking to the paper in the context of the US consulate’s move from Breach Candy to the Bandra Kurla Complex. The British High Commission has already moved to BKC, as will the Australian Consul-General’s expanded offices in the near future.
The consular services are not alone in moving from tony south Mumbai to what were once the suburbs, east, west or central. Corporates have been moving out of the ‘island’ city over the past decade, with the impetus increasing over the past five years. Hindustan Unilever has moved lock, stock and barrel; Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda, BMW and Fiat, to name but a few, are in what were once the ‘boondocks’; most major advertising agencies and media agencies have made the city-suburb move in the past few years; major broadcasters such as Zee and Colors have camped there as well. The list could go on and on.
There are some immediate and thought-provoking implications to the trend. Considering the importance of commuting in the life of a citizen of the city, the most important change is in the demand-supply equation in—and consequently prices of—real estate, and rentals. The professional workforce, obviously, wants to live as close to their place of work as possible and the ‘suburbs’ are the first choice. With the change in where they live, the demand for quality schooling and college education rises in suburban institutes as well. Who wants their children to go on a one-hour commute to office?
It’s no surprise, as commerce moves to what were once the suburbs, that hospitality and entertainment options in these areas see a huge explosion. There are more luxury hotel rooms in the suburbs than in ‘town’. If visitors to the city find that the offices they need to visit are in the suburbs, they choose to stay there, eat there and get entertained there. It’s just a bonus that both the international and national offices are in the ‘burbs’ as well.
Things can only get worse for the island city. There is virtually no land available for development once all the mill land is exhausted. The real estate that is available, because the supply side is finite, defies gravity and heads northward, making investments (and rentals) significantly cheaper in the suburbs.
If companies and those who work there are choosing to leave for greener pastures, who will continue to live in the ‘city’? Those who have no need for the commute will be the main constituency.
South Mumbai will still have a lot going for it, though. You can transplant the offices, and the workforce might shift out, but you can’t transplant the Queen’s Necklace, Chowpatty, the Art Deco architecture, the Prince of Wales Museum, the Jehangir Art Gallery, the Gateway of India.
It’s the centuries of culture and the heritage that one cannot move. They’ll stay in south Mumbai forever, so the tourists will visit forever.
But south Mumbai will not be the ‘city’ anymore; that appellation will belong to areas much further north. Like it or not, south Mumbai will become a suburb. It’s sad, but that’s the simple truth.
This story by Anant Rangaswami was originally published on

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