Mumbai will soon get a new facelift. With BMC planning 149 footpaths across the 24 administrative wards for beautification. Along with 42 bridges, 120 traffic islands five each in the 24 administrative wards await beautification. For the street food hubs, 62 roads have been selected.
Under the Swacha Bharat Abhiyan and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s directive, many parapet walls, road abutting walls, random compound walls, and neglected spaces seem to be getting a fresh coat of paint. If this is the extent of beautification planned then we are in deep trouble. As everyone knows cosmetic changes do not last. They are not revolutionary but temporary. And ridiculously priced for the short extent they will last in this great city. And we will be thankful if they can just survive the first drizzle of Mumbai rains this June.
Beautiful cities like London, Paris, Amsterdam did not focus on cosmetic changes but a century ago its Architects and Urban Planners defined its aesthetics by incorporating Architecture, planning services for the future, and building for public usage keeping in mind the day-to-day wear and tear of roads, footpaths, bridges, gardens, etc. would undergo. Modern cities like Singapore, Dubai, Australia have relatively modern infrastructure designed in this decade. They have focused on making their cities cleaner, greener, energy-efficient, and with permanent as well as semi-permanent architectural finishes and installations. We should learn from them and tread on similar guidelines.
CoBOL Architects & Planners suggest Mumbai BMC should devise a plan to incorporate permanent and semipermanent finishes like mosaic murals, the use of rough and polished granite/ natural stone, paints that are dustproof, weatherproof, waterproof, acrylic emulsion, or synthetic-colored textured plasters. Certain spaces can also be painted with a high sheen, brilliant white color, and thick coat which reflects heat and reduces temperature up to 6 degrees Celsius.
Instead of our current acrylic and Fibre-reinforced plastic (FRP) traffic island centrepieces why can’t we have art installations of natural stones and materials. If we can’t have this then let’s just make them greener by planting some trees. Why do we need to use ACP everywhere, why are flex banners and posters still allowed, why use random garish colored led lights lighting up our national treasures? And above all why is bad quality paint used for all coloring in the city beautification, which will wash off in just one cycle of our monsoons. Washing away BMCs beautification budget at one go. Any beautification idea without proper specification and a maintenance plan is a massive waste of taxpayers’ rupees.
Can we not plan our city beautification with proper policies for a long-term impact? In a phase-wise and planned manner? Can we not broadcast a unified message by our Mumbai Cities Beautification focusing only on its strengths. We are one of the few cities in the world blesses with historic Architecture and monuments. Also, the heart of our city contains one of the biggest national park full of wildlife, biodiversity, flora, and fauna. We are uniquely blessed with beaches, mangrove forests, flamingo habitat, and marine biology. Mumbai’s tourism industry accounted for 5.4% of India’s total travel and tourism-related GDP in 2016 and employed 2.4% of the country’s total workforce.
Can our cities beautification not incorporate tourist initiatives, spots, monuments to enhance its tourist experience. Mumbai is home to the world’s most glamourous film industry, ‘Bollywood’. Can we not incorporate some desi style Bollywood art highlighting its legendary old movies. These are just some relevant ideas but can we not have consolidated ‘Mumbai City Beautification Guidelines’ made to be strictly followed in all wards, uniformly, by private stakeholders and citizens alike.
“Any beautification plan without aesthetics, longevity of finishes, proper specification and a maintenance plan is a massive waste of taxpayers’ rupees. Our cities’ beautification needs to be a permanent affair lasting for decades to come rather than a seasonal affair to be washed away every other monsoon.”