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Mumbai decaying,Cong-NCP indifferent

A scathing,no-holds-barred comment on the urban decay in Mumbai and the decline of the financial nerve centre of the country.

Written by Kavitha Iyer | Mumbai |
September 6, 2011 12:16:57 am

A scathing,no-holds-barred comment on the urban decay in Mumbai and the decline of the financial nerve centre of the country,written as a diplomatic note marked “sensitive” by the US consulate in Mumbai,is in the latest batch of cables released by WikiLeaks.

Slamming the now much-discussed builder-politician nexus in Mumbai,the cable said the city is “no longer the centre of growth and innovation it once was”. It blamed the absence of imaginative political leadership and pointed out that cities such as Hyderabad,Bangalore and the New Delhi region have all climbed several notches on the livability scale even as industries and businesses relocated out of Mumbai over the past few years.

In a cable titled ‘Golden Maharashtra’s economy is still India’s biggest,but challenges ahead’,the note bearing the name of former consul-general Paul Folmsbee at the end,was despatched on November 25,2009.

“…The continued demand for land and urban development has spurred a boom in real estate and land speculation. The most dynamic businesses in the city are now property and land developers who,in league with local politicians,conspire to manipulate and control the allocation of land and construction permits,instead of focusing on innovation. According to one investor,‘Mumbai has now become an extraction economy; there might as well be oil under the ground,given all the fights over land.’ Given this focus,most factories and industries have long ago relocated in industrial belts far from Mumbai,” the cable said.

It went on to say that representatives of several private equity firms told the Congenoff’ (office of the consul-general) that almost all their prospective investments now come from New Delhi,Hyderabad and Bangalore,almost none from Mumbai. Better infrastructure,affordable living spaces and easier access to social infrastructure made these cities a big draw for young entrepreneurs and businesses.

“In a business survey conducted five years ago,80 percent of respondents interviewed said that they were downsizing their operations in the city,” it continued.

The cable criticised the Congress-NCP government: “…Ten years of indifferent governance by the ruling Congress/Nationalist Congress Party coalition — which was re-elected in October 2009 — have further decreased investor confidence in the state. Businesses repeatedly claimed that political leaders devote most of their time to the politics of remaining in office instead of developing and implementing development and economic policies.”

On corruption,it said,“Businesses must bribe government officials to secure permits and permissions,payouts are made to politicians and labor leaders to ensure peace in factories,and commissions are a mandatory component of any government contracts or tender.”

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