The city’s development authority has tied up with the World Bank to map the entire Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), mirroring every road, utility, water body and plan reservation across eight municipal corporations, nine municipal councils and about a thousand villages on a digital platform.
According to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), the ambitious Regional Information System that it aims to create with the World Bank’s help will be the first of its kind in India.
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Sanjay Sethi, Additional Metropolitan Commissioner at the MMRDA, said, “We have forged an informal agreement with the World Bank to assist us in building a Regional Information System. There is no equivalent for this kind of a detailed information trove anywhere in the country, and so there is no available expertise. Representatives from the World Bank will visit Mumbai in February to take the project forward.”
The World Bank will guide MMRDA in planning the project, assess needs, identify information gaps, and identifying methods and technologies besides Geographic Information Systems to create the database.
Sethi said besides India, other developing countries too lacked regional information systems for their cities. “In our research, we found that only very developed cities had this kind of a database. Paris has a very useful information system. Rio de Janeiro has attempted this kind of a system, but it is not as efficient,” he added.
The MMR is spread across 4,355 square kilometres, comprising the eight municipal corporations of Mumbai, Thane, Kalyan-Dombivli, Navi Mumbai, Ulhasnagar, Bhiwandi-Nizampur, Vasai-Virar and Mira-Bhayander. Besides the corporations, MMR also includes the nine municipal councils of Ambarnath, Kulgaon-Badlapur, Matheran, Karjat, Panvel, Khopoli, Pen, Uran and Alibaug, besides over a thousand villages in Thane and Raigad districts. The MMRDA is the planning authority in charge of the entire region. Most of these areas have haphazardly grown with several urban local bodies battling problems of illegal construction.
“The current database of all these municipal corporations and councils have a lot of data gaps. There is very little consideration given to hydrology in planning along with land use. Planning projects or giving approvals becomes a tedious process because we have to make a lot of assumptions based on the existing data available, which very often is much different from the ground reality,” Sethi said, adding that mapping of utilities across MMR was the worst.
Unforeseen utility lines have delayed several mega infrastructure projects in Mumbai as well as the rest of MMR, necessitating design changes and cost revisions.