That's right, me hearties! This is yours truly's first editorial for this paper.
Mumbai Meri Jaan!
Civic budget ensures it stays top migration destination
While Raj Thackeray continues to slug it out over the issue of migrants arriving in Mumbai and grabbing the resources that he says ideally belong to the native Marathi manoos, the latest BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation budget should give him a fresh reason to worry, at least on paper.
The futuristic civic budget for 2008-09 should please citizens and migrants alike. There are a slew of firsts in all spheres -- health, education, social, environment, recreation, disaster management, citizen services, roads and transport -- to be covered by a huge Rs 16,792.77-crore outlay for the financial year. With a better quality of life being made available without increased taxes and duties, Mumbai is bound to attract many more migrants than the average 300 families recorded daily so far.
Mumbaikars will soon be proud owners of citizens’ smart cards aimed at improving the BMC’s efficiency in grievance redressal. Besides, Mumbai will soon be exempt from octroi duty on textiles. Being an economically and socially backward migrant in Maximum City will actually make more fiscal sense now on. A poor ‘outsider’ can now set up home in Mumbai, and the BMC will give him free medication, pay him to send his daughter to a civic school, provide free food, textbooks, uniforms and bus pass to his children, apart from public toilets in slum pockets and possibly more water connections. The BMC also plans up to 80 per cent garbage pickup from all over the city.
As for the average Mumbaikar, there will be more gardens, recreation spaces, upgraded hospitals, better drainage and storm water disposal, underground car parks and concrete roads.
The budget’s ‘come-one-come-all’ approach is, thus, directly in keeping with the state’s plans to upgrade the existing city infrastructure enough to catapult it directly to the League of Extraordinary Cities. What is not yet clear is how much funding will have to be set aside to tackle the imminent resource crunch that will set in to accommodate the new arrivals.