Promising to make the life of Mumbaikars easier, Ajoy Mehta, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, is working on projects that aim to transform the city. In an interview with Kartik Sharma, Sneha Mejari, and Akanki Sharma of Elets News Network (ENN), he highlighted the challenges coming his way
Mumbai is a developed city as compared to other cities in India. In that context, how far is it from becoming a smart city?
Once we say that we have to become a smart city, we have to look at doing things not only in a better way, but also in a way which makes the life of the citizens easier. Going smart is doing something in a better way, in a way that it makes the life of the citizens easy. So, we are working on projects that lead to the better development of the city.
Do you see any scope of some coastal roads or new roads to be added?
Road transport has two aspects- to improve the existing transport and increase the number of corridors. Unlike Delhi and Hyderabad, Mumbai is a linear city which is quite important for north-south corridors. Today, there are two north-south corridors on the railway, i.e. western and central railway and there are two north-south corridors on the road, which are the eastern express and the western express. So, these are four corridors for better connectivity of the city. Now, the time has come to open up a fifth corridor as its need is felt. But, there are a few challenges. One is the engineering challenge and the second is the challenge of mitigating environmental issues. However, do we make a road that reduces and mitigates environmental issues? The third big challenge is that your road should be done in such a way that management is facilitated.
Apart from road, metro is now more prevalent. Delhi is a very good example of metro transport. Metro is coming up as a very big option; it is a big high-speed and environment-friendly option coming up. Mumbai is working on various metro lines and the whole transport system is being integrated. It is being done by the MMRDA. Metros will have the mass rapid transit system, which is environment-friendly.
Talking about an easy life for citizens, transport becomes an important factor. Though Mumbai’s transport is much advanced, do you still see any scope of improvement in city’s transport?
We are going to put up a passenger information system under the smart cities so that everything becomes streamlined. The fundamental principal of any public transport is to time yourself as per the timings of the public transport and tap its frequency. So, we are now looking at bringing in much more predictability at bus stands through passenger information.
Apart from transport, some utilities also add to the smart city. If you talk about water, Mumbai has always witnessed lack of it. So, what mechanism are you adopting for water harvesting to avail sufficient water in the city?
Today, 50 percent of Mumbai’s sewage is going untreated. There are two things that are happening- one, we are damaging the sea and second is, the water which could have been treated and reused for non-portable purposes, is lost. So, if that water is treated and is brought to the level pollution control board wants us to, then that grey water can be used for washing, cleaning, flushing, among many other uses. is reduces the requirement for fresh water and the moment it is reduced, we need less storage capacity and less land for building a dam.
We are going to set-up some new water-treatment plants in the next four years. The tender process has already started and the waste-water treatment plants will be set up along the coast, so that the water is treated and pumped back for reuse.