The Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs on Monday declared Greater Mumbai as the third most livable city in the country. Mumbai, on the other hand, was ranked first in the livability index category among cities with a population of more than four million.
Among the 111 cities where the survey was conducted, Pune and Navi Mumbai stood first and second, respectively and Thane ranked sixth on the liveability index. Activists, however, said that best among the worst does not make a city most livable.
While four cities from Maharashtra made it to the top 10 list, UP and Tamil Nadu, which have a higher number of big cities, could not make it to the first 10.
This is the first-ever exercise undertaken by the Centre to rank cities based on their “ease of living” parameters. Initially, there was a plan to cover 116 cities — 100 smart cities, capital cities and those with more than one million population. But Howrah, New Town and Durgapur in West Bengal did not participate in the survey. Moreover, Naya Raipur in Chhattisgarh and Amravati in Maharashtra did not fit into the parameters, as these are greenfield cities.
The ministry, through an international bidding process under a World Bank-funded programme, had selected IPSOS Research Private Limited, in consortium with Athena Infonomics India Private Limited and Economist Group Limited, to assess the livability index of the cities, a release stated.
The assessment was based on four “pillars” — institutional, social, economic and physical. These were further expanded into 15 core parameters like transportation and mobility, governance, power supply, social infrastructure, education, employment, health and safety and security. The livability index also took into account physical infrastructure like housing, public open spaces, land use, water availability, solid waste management, reduced pollution and waste water management among others.
Each city was given a score between 0 to 100. Of the 100 marks, while institutional parameters carried 25 marks, it was 25 marks for social, 5 marks for economic and 45 marks for physical parameters. Out of 100, Pune scored 58.11, Navi Mumbai scores 58.02 and greater Mumbai scored 57.78 marks.
When contacted, BMC Commissioner Ajoy Mehta said, “Parametres such as civic services, civic infrastructure, art and culture and economics among others were taken into account. This will help cities across the country grow and improve to match up to the international standards. The biggest advantage is that it will attract more investment, which means more employment.”
“We are facing some issues, but as a city, what the services we are providing and how we are fighting back is important. The benchmark was also on how, as a city, we were able to tackle problems and have moved on to do better, or are we still stuck with the problem,” he added.
Navi Mumbai Municipal Commissioner Dr N Ramaswami said, “In Navi Mumbai, we have been focusing and stressing on providing various civic facilities. We have been incessantly working on making the city livable and this is just a proof of our work. The second rank is a direct result of the municipal corporation performing its responsibilities to the best.”
“The prestigious ranking of the city is actually for the residents, who have made the city livable by following their civic duties,” Mayor Jayawant Sutar said.
Thane Additional Municipal Commissioner Sameer Unhale said, “In current times, a lot of basic civic duties have become competitive. We are happy with the ranking, but it is not a destination. We are going to work harder on areas that need attention. With the help of our commissioner, we have managed to make Thane a habitable area, and we will continue doing so.”
However, noted urbanist Sulakshana Mahajan said, “If Pune, which lacks proper transportation facilities and Mumbai, with its number of infrastructural issues, are ranked as top most livable cities in the country, then one can imagine the state of other cities surveyed. This was just an exercise to make cities feel better after being ranked as worst in the international livability survey. Best among worst cannot be ranked as the most livable city. The government should instead start exercises to improve these city, so they could stand fair when compared with international cities.”