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FPJ Anniversary: Bombay’s nine gems are now Mumbai’s navratan

11:54 PM Jul 23, 2021 | Dipti Singh

Sweety Adimulam, Shashank Rao, Dipti Singh, Somendra Sharma

Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)

As India's richest municipal corporation governing the country's financial capital the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has always attracted eyeballs whether it is to grab a political stronghold, real estate deals, development projects or even for its policy implementation.

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From a mere town council in 1873, the BMC has come a long way, from implementing some of the most ambitious infrastructure projects, to dealing with a pandemic like Covid19 that infected lakhs and killed thousands in the span of less than two years.

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At the entrance to the iconic BMC headquarters building at Fort stands a statue of Sir Pherozshah Mehta, who drafted the Bombay Municipal Act of 1872. In 1888, the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act replaced the Bombay Municipal Act.

The BMC, which was formed as a “town council”, had its first-ever council meeting in September 1873. Having a history of over 145 years, the BMC has grown vast administratively with the city’s expansion to the north. Currently, there are 24 administrative wards and seven zones through which the municipality is dealing with civic issues in the island city and suburbs.

The jurisdiction of the BMC runs over the full island city: from Colaba in the south to Mulund in eastern suburbs and Dahisar in the north. It maintains toll stations (check nakas) at these two northern entry points to the city. The main administrative offices are in the BMC headquarters opposite the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Railway Terminus.

According to the book, Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) and Ward Administration, written by retired Deputy Municipal Commissioner Dr David Anthony Pinto and Dr Marina Rita Pinto in 2008, after the corporation’s formation in 1950, suburbs from Bandra to Andheri and Sion to Ghatkopar, and in 1956 the remaining portion of Andheri to Dahisar and Ghatkopar to Mulund were merged in the municipal corporation

Later, in order to provide better facilities to the growing population, six divisional wards were further divided into 21 administrative wards under the regional decentralisation process in 1964. The last bifurcation of administrative wards was done in early 2000, taking the total wards up to 24. In 2007-08, the BMC had 1.15 lakh employees, providing civic services to 1.2 crore population. Covering an area of 483.14 square km, making Mumbai one of the densest cities with population density of 26,500 persons per square km (excluding the area marked off as “no development zone”).

Apart from an increase in administrative wards, the number of administrators has also increased gradually from one IAS officer to five now handling the corporation.

The island city (South Mumbai) has the highest density of 44,170 people per square km. The population density in Western Suburbs (area between Bandra to Dahisar) is 24,500 square km and the same is 22,110 square km in the eastern suburbs (Kurla to Mankhurd and Mulund)

With rapidly increasing population density and growing up administratively, there has been increasing demand on bifurcating the city civic body in terms of administration with two separate municipal commissioners for city and suburbs.

The civic body is now in the process of getting the status of single planning authority of the financial capital, citing loss of revenue and confusion among citizens. The demand if approved by the state government will not only end confusion among citizens by creating a single window, single authority for administrative approvals but will make BMC more powerful, experts believe.

Did you know?

The name “Bombay” was changed to “Mumbai” by the Corporation Resolution No 512 dated August 12, 1996, Maharashtra Act, XXV of 1996

Did you know?

The Mumbai Port Trust and Defence areas, as well as the Borivali National Park are exempt from the BMC’s jurisdiction.

Mumbai Police

History of Bombay Police (now Mumbai Police) goes way back to the 1600s. The first police force in Bombay, marshalled by the East India Company, consisted of toddy tappers, men who came from the Bhandari community. The history of the Bombay City Police opens in 1669 with the Bhandari Militia, a modest force of about 500 men. The Bombay Police was instrumental in conducting the first census operation, attempted by the Bombay Government in 1849.

Charles Forjett, Superintendent of Police, Bombay/Deputy Commissioner of Police/Acting Commissioner of Police (1855-1863), used to walk the streets in disguise to listen in on people's conversations and sniff out possible mutinies. It was during his tenure as police chief that the 1857 revolution erupted. But while there was butchery and bloodshed in northern India and Bengal, Forjett kept Bombay quiet. Forjett was admired by the Indians for his high standard of policing. He introduced beats, night rounds and other procedures. If he found his officers misbehaving with the locals or taking bribes he came down hard on them.

The Head Office of the Commissioner of Police, Greater Mumbai is a landmark located at the junction of Lokmanya Tilak Marg and Dr Dadabhai Naorojee Road. Facing Crawford Market, this beautiful structure was designed in secular Victorian Gothic Style using yellow Malad stone by Architect John Adams. The construction commenced in November 1894 and was completed on December 24, 1896.

On October 1st, 1945, Greater Bombay was formed. Henceforth, the whole of Greater Bombay was under the Commissioner of Police who was now known as the Commissioner of Police, Greater Bombay. Happy. E. Butler was the first to hold this title.

Did you know?

The post of Commissioner of Police was created by Act XIII of 1856 on June 14, 1856. William Crawford was appointed the first Commissioner of Police for the Town and Island of Bombay, while also performing his duties as Senior Magistrate of Police from November 1, 1856.

Did you know?

Pydhonie Police Station, situated in south Mumbai, is the oldest police station of Mumbai city established in 1860.

Frank Henry Souter holds the record of the longest tenure as Commissioner of Police, a full 24 years.

Quick Fact

J. S. Bharucha, IP (August 15, 1947 - May 15, 1949), was the first Commissioner of Police of Bombay in independent India, and came from a wealthy Parsi family of Surat. He was educated at Oxford.

Central Railway

The Great Indian Peninsular (GIP) Railway came into existence on 16 April, 1853, when the first train on the Indian Sub-continent steamed off from Mumbai to Thane, a modest stretch of only 33 km. The Central Railway was carved out of erstwhile GIP Railway on November 5, 1951.

Central Railway covers a large part of the state of Maharashtra and parts of North-Eastern Karnataka and Southern Madhya Pradesh. It is a system with a network of 3905.47 route km and 5975.33-track km linking 477 stations in five divisions namely Mumbai, Pune, Bhusawal, Nagpur and Solapur.

During pre-Covid times Central Railway carried lakhs of passengers every day to every nook and corner of the country through Mail/Express/Passenger trains. Even in this pandemic, they ran Shramik Special trains last year while now special trains are operated as well. Mumbai suburban trains are the lifeline that ferried 44-45 lakh commuters before Covid-19 in 1774 daily services. Even today they are carrying 16-18 lakh passengers on essential duties as permitted by state government.

It also operates toy trains on one of the few Narrow Gauge line in India on Neral-Matheran corridor. This connects the hill station of Matheran in the Western ghats and also has some of the oldest and prestigious trains like Deccan Queen, Punjab Mail, Gitanjali Express, Hussain Sagar Express and Pushpak Express.

The network

The Mumbai Suburban system of CR extends from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus to Kalyan (54km), where it bifurcates into 2 directions, one to Kasara (121km) and the other to Khopoli (114km). It also connects the satellite town of Navi Mumbai with local trains on CSMT-Panvel (59km) on the Harbour line, Thane-Vashi-Panvel Trans-harbour line and Fourth corridor of Nerul-Belapur-Kharkopar under phase-I that is part of Belapur-Seawoods-Uran line.

Western Railway

Western Railway in its present form came into existence on November 5, 1951 by the merger of its forerunner, erstwhile Bombay, Baroda and Central India (BB&CI) Railway with other State Railways such as; Saurashtra, Rajputana and Jaipur. The BB&CI Railway was itself incorporated in July 1855 and first constructed a 29-mile broad gauge track from Ankleshwar to Utran in Gujarat in 1860.

In 1862, Asia’s first Narrow Gauge line was opened between Dhaboi and Miyagam and on the same year the world’s first Double Decker coaches were introduced. In 1864, the railway was extended up to Mumbai as they operated a train between Grant Road and Valsad. In April 1867, local train services commenced on Virar-Backbay section.

In 1883, a metre gauge Railway system, initially linking Delhi with Agra, Jaipur and Ajmer, was established. Subsequently it was further extended beyond Baroda towards Godhra, Ratlam, Nagda and thereafter towards Mathura to eventually link with GIPR. In 1870, Churchgate station was opened and in three years it was extended till Colaba Terminus.

Western Railway serves entire Gujarat, parts of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Western Railway comprises of six divisions viz. Mumbai, Vadodara, Ahmedabad, Ratlam, Rajkot and Bhavnagar. Two erstwhile divisions viz. Jaipur and Ajmer were merged into North West Railway in October 2002 and Kota division was made a part of West Central Railway in April 2003. A new division of Ahmedabad was created in April 2003.

The suburban section of Western Railway in Mumbai extends from Churchgate to Virar and further up to Dahanu Road covering a distance of 123km. During pre-Covid times, the WR ferried 35-37 lakh daily commuters in 1367 services, which now stands at 9-11 lakh per day comprising of people on essential duties.

Quick fact

The 20th Century saw the introduction of the first electric suburban train from Colaba to Borivali in 1928.

The Government of India took over the management of the BB&CI railway from January 1942 and in 1949, the Gaikwad Baroda State Railway was merged with the BB&CI Railway.

1972 - Mumbai-Delhi Rajdhani service first began

1986 - First 12-car train started on Dadar-Virar section

1992 - World’s first Ladies special train was introduced

Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport Undertaking

Over the years, the red-coloured buses run by the Bombay Electric Supply & Transport (BEST) have witnessed several transformations. From the trams that have become heritage, double decker buses, single decker, Midi and Mini buses, air-conditioned and finally the recent tempo travellers; the BEST bus fleet have come a long way. Their role was pretty well visible in this pandemic as their buses operated right from Day 1.

In 1947, it became an undertaking of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and rebranded itself to ‘Bombay Electric Supply & Transport’. In 1995 the organisation was renamed to ‘Brihanmumbai Electric Supply & Transport (BEST)’ that currently operates nearly 3,300 buses and aims to run 4,000 buses in coming weeks including ones on wet-lease. Currently, there are around 23-25 lakh odd passengers on essential duties, which used to be close to 40 lakh during pre-Covid times.

Rewinding BEST’s history, this organisation was originally set up in 1873 as a tramway company called ‘Bombay Tramway Company Limited’. The company set up a captive thermal power station at the Wadi Bunder in November 1905 to generate electricity for its trams and positioned it to also supply electricity to the city. At present its Supply division distributes electricity to over 10 lakh consumers mainly in south and central Mumbai between Colaba-Sion/Mahim.

1907 - The first electric tram service ran in Mumbai

1926- BEST became an operator of buses

Did you know?

Bombay saw its first bus run in July 1926 between Afghan Church and Crawford Market, while the first double decker bus was introduced in 1937.

Did you know?

In May 1874, the first horse-drawn tram made its debut in the city, plying on the Colaba–Pydhone via Crawford Market and Bori Bunder to Pydhonie via Kalbadevi routes.

Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA)

The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) -- fully owned by government of Maharashtra is about 46 years old; established in accordance with the Mumbai Metropolitan Development Act, 1974, on 26th January 1975. It was developed to make MMR a destination for economic activity by promoting infrastructure development and improving the quality of life.

The main role of MMRDA is to engage in long-term planning, promotion of new growth centres, implementation of strategic projects and financing infrastructure development. It prepares plans, formulates policies and programs, implements projects and helps in directing investments in the MMR. The Regional Plan provides for a strategic framework of MMR's sustainable growth.

In particular, it conceives, promotes and monitors the key projects for developing new growth centres and brings about improvement in sectors like transport, housing, water supply and environment in the Region.

Every year it outlays a budgetary provision for execution of various infrastructure, development works. For the financial year 2021-22 it had approved an outlay of Rs 12,969 crore, of which around 35 per cent has been allocated for various Metro projects, in the budget estimates. Currently it is executing about 300 km of metro line work besides carrying out big budget infrastructure projects that includes Mumbai Trans Harbour Sea Link (MTHL), improvement of Junctions like Chedda Nagar, Sion Chembur Link Road expansion among others.

In July 2020 the Urban Development Department of Maharashtra extended the area of the MMR by including parts of Palghar, Vasai, Bhiwandi, Kalyan, Ambernath, Karjat, Khalapaur, Pen and Alibaug. The proposal to extend the limits of MMR to include nearly 2,000 sq km area was passed in June 2019.

Did you know?

The MMR comprises of eight municipalities – Greater Mumbai, Thane, Kalyan-Dombivali, Navi Mumbai, Ulhasnagar, Bhiwandi-Nizamapur, Vasai-Virar and Mira-Bhayandar – and nine municipal councils, with more than 1,000 villages in Thane and Raigad districts.

MMRDA’s role

> Preparation of Regional Development Plans

> Providing financial assistance for significant regional projects

> Providing help to local authorities and their infrastructure projects

> Coordinating execution of projects and/or schemes in MMR

> Restricting any activity that could adversely affect appropriate development of MMR, etc.

Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA)

In the last seven decades, Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) has provided affordable housing to nearly 7.50 lakh families across the state, of which 2.5 lakh alone are in Mumbai.

MHADA shares a glorious history in the Housing sector. It was established by the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Act, 1976 and came into existence on 5th December 1977. All the existing housing boards were brought under one umbrella " Maharashtra housing and Area Development Authority" on 5th December 1977.

The erstwhile Mumbai Housing and Area Development Board was restructured in 1992 and split into three separate Boards -- Mumbai Housing and Area Development Board, Mumbai Building Repairs and Reconstruction Board and Mumbai Slum Improvement Board Under the Government Resolution.

And soon regional Boards were established in the state --Pune, Aurangabad, Nashik, Nagpur, and Amravati. Later through in February 1989 Konkan Housing and Area Development Board was constituted under the housing Authority.

In pre-independence era, Industrialization gave rise to urbanization, and led to migration. Many people in the rural areas shifted to urban areas in search of employment opportunities, better living standard and better education in the city. Also after World War II, the partition of India and formation of Pakistan led to the largest human mass migration in history. Many Hindu refugees settled in Mumbai, where the Indian government gave them asylum. An acute shortage of housing was felt in the then Mumbai province of India, which extended its borders till Karachi. To tackle the problem of housing, the then Housing Minister Guljarilal Nanda passed the Housing bill and thus came into existence the Maharashtra Housing Board, which was constituted under the Bombay Housing Board Act, in 1948.

Did you know?

The Maharashtra Housing Board was formerly called "Bombay Housing Board". Some of the landmark projects included Ambedkar Nagar in Worli, which was the first housing project that was constructed in 1948 while the housing project of Tagore Nagar, Vikhroli built in 1962-63, became one of the biggest housing projects in Asia.

Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA)

The Government of Maharashtra on December 16, 1995 and through necessary statuary amendments has established Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA), Mumbai to serve as Planning Authority for all Slum areas in the jurisdiction of Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai. Subsequently the area of the Thane Municipal Corporation has been added in the jurisdiction of SRA on September 11, 2014.

SRA is empowered to implement the slum rehabilitation schemes by providing a single window clearance for all types of approvals that are required for the project namely formation of co-operative societies, certification of eligibility of slum-dwellers, taking punitive action on non-participating slum-dwellers obstructing the scheme, survey and measurement on slum lands grant of building permissions, leasing of rehabilitation plots and free-sale plots and updating of property cards (PR cards).

Early in 1970s the governments were treating slum settlements as illegal and resorting to demolition and clearance. But the demolition efforts not only proved unsuccessful but the fact that the citizens who had become an integral part of the city were being dishoused, was unequivocally termed "inhuman."

Therefore, the second phase of response was to tolerate the slum structures as a housing solution and provide civic amenities to the slum dwellers as environmental improvement works. An Act called the Maharashtra Slum Areas (Improvement. Clearance and Redevelopment) Act,1971 was passed and improvement works were defined therein. It was accepted that when slums are to be removed for public purposes these slums have to be relocated elsewhere.

In the current phase, the Government of Maharashtra has launched a comprehensive slum rehabilitation scheme by introducing an innovative concept of using land as a resource and allowing incentive floor space index (FSI) in the form of tenements for sale in the open market.

Did you know?

The Chief Minister of Maharashtra is the Chairperson of SRA and an IAS Officer is a full-time Chief Executive Officer of the Authority. Other members include Ministers, elected member of the State Legislature, Secretaries of concern State Government Department and some non-official members.

Mumbai Fire Brigade

The Mumbai Fire Brigade, known to be one of the finest in the country, has shown its métier time and again. From facing the 2008 Terrorist attacks, when they faced the bullets of militants to tackle fire and rescue hotel guests to the recent covid19 pandemic duties of sanitising the city, the firefighters of the Mumbai fire brigade and trained to face every disaster, risking their lives.

As the Mumbai Fire Brigade now boasts some of the latest and most advanced equipment in its fleet, it’s hard to imagine how during 1777 locals were allotted Rs. 4 per day for handling carts and horse chariots which were used to extinguish fires, that’s actually when fire protection services in Mumbai began.

Mumbai Fire Brigade has come a long way since then and over the years evolved from a horse and cart driven service to a most specialised fire service But the biggest push towards modernisation began in 2016, with the Mumbai Fire Brigade started investing in critical new equipment and vehicles.

Mumbai Fire Brigade has developed over the years and today it has evolved far more ahead than its traditional role of putting out fires and rescuing people and property. Today, in addition to fire fighting services, the Mumbai Fire Brigade provides support during seasonal flooding and other rescue and relief services. It now also has a role to play in relation to handling natural and complex emergencies, and planning for the response in case of major disasters.

Currently, the Mumbai Fire Brigade has 35 fire stations spread across the city.

Did you know?

The Bombay fire brigade was officially formed and formally placed under the police as a part-time function. A regular fire service with horse-drawn fire engines had begun under the control of the Commissioner of Police then.

1865 - Bombay Fire Brigade was placed jointly under the control of the Government and the local Municipality

1887- Fire protection officially became the responsibility of the Municipality

1920- The Brigade was motorised by replacing horse-drawn steam engines

1948 - M.G. Pradhan was appointed Chief Fire Officer, the first Indian to hold this position.

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