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Sunday, December 05, 2021

My Solution

What, 350 words! One can't do justice to the problems Mumbai's facing in one full page! How can one talk about congestion, lack of open s...

Written by Debi Goenka |
August 31, 1998

What, 350 words! One can’t do justice to the problems Mumbai’s facing in one full page! How can one talk about congestion, lack of open spaces, garbage, pollution, traffic, the horrors of commuting, noise pollution, breakdown of infrastructure, disaster management in just 350 words? Anyway, I thought about it, tried to prioritise all the problems, and came to the conclusion that perhaps the biggest problem is none of those mentioned above, but the apathy of Mumbaiites.

The reason behind this conclusion is simple — all these problems are known to us and all these problems have solutions. Yet, day after day, month after month, year after year, decade after decade, the Mumbaikar struggles on, cursing all and sundry, but oblivious to the fact that the solutions lie within his grasp.

Let me talk about commuting. As pedestrians, we all know we have no footpaths to walk on. They are either occupied by hawkers or encroachers or have simply disappeared in the name of road widening. As motorists, we all know that despite road widening, concretisation and flyovers, the potholes just get bigger and bigger and the traffic jams more torturous. The suburban railways merrily transport passengers in conditions that would have the SPCA up in arms if animals were involved rather than humans! In fact, the Bombay High Court recently passed an order against the manner in which chickens were being transported. To my mind, though, the chickens were in much better shape than commuters! Perhaps, as my better half pointed out, the chickens make this trip just once, the Mumbaikar has to do it twice a day!

The point is, besides cursing the railways, the cops, the municipal workers the bureaucrats and the ministers, what else do we do? The answer, sadly, is NOTHING. And this is why, day after day, month after month, year after year, decade after decade, Mumbai continues to crumble and decay, despite the hundreds of crores of rupees that are poured down the drain, and, of course, into the right pockets.

Mumbai has produced great crusaders and reformers. Yet, why is it that the average Mumbaikar feels so helpless? Time and again, history has proved that a handful of people can make a difference. Then why is it that 12 million Mumbaikars take it for granted that they can do nothing to help themselves, their families, their friends, their environment? If 12 million people decide that they want clean air, clean water, a clean and green environment, then no government, politician or bureaucrat can fight down this demand. The Mumbaikar must realise this fact, and MUST act. Only he can save himself.

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