TOGETHERVCAN’S SOCIAL SANCHAR WITH SRI UPS MADAN
Gateway Of India Mumbai
Apollo Bandar, Colaba, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400001
On 29th September 2016, V Citizens Actions Network was proud to organise the next instalment of its series of interactive live talk shows, ‘TogetherVCAN’s Social Sanchar’, at the Royal Bombay Yacht Club. The speaker for the day was Shri UPS Madan, IAS, the Metropolitan Commissioner, MMRDA.
A 1983 batch IAS officer, he started his career as an Assistant Collector, Aurangabad, he has worked in various districts in various capacities. He had a stint with the Department of Atomic Energy, Government of India as Deputy Secretary and Director for four years.
He worked as Chief Electoral Officer of Maharashtra for three and half years. Madan has a rich experience in the field of urban infrastructure having worked as Commissioner, Kalyan Municipal Corporation, Project Director in MMRDA, Vice President & CEO, MHADA, among others.
Since March 2013, he is posted as Metropolitan Commissioner, MMRDA.
VCAN Managing Trustee Mrs. Indrani Malkani, who is also an Ashoka Fellow, began the programme with a Welcome Address in which she introduced V Citizens Actions Network, and explained the format to be followed for the Social Sanchar.
VCAN Trustee Mr. V. Ranganathan then introduced Shri Madan, and borrowed from his own experiences in the government, including as the Municipal Commissioner, to help the audience better understand the topic at hand, as well as the MMRDA’s roles and responsibilities.
Shri Madan began his address by giving an overview of the MMRDA and its activities. He noted to the audience’s surprise that while the city limits of the MCGM was around 400 sq kms, the Mumbai Metropolitan area extended to ten times that!!
He outlined two initial key focus of the MMRDA’s work as transport infrastructure and housing, particularly low income housing. Among the transport projects handled by them were big ticket infrastructure projects such as improvement of the Suburban Railway system, road transport including flyovers and link roads, and finally, the much talked about Metro Rail and Monorail Projects.
He acknowledged delays in the projects but apprised the audience of the progress on the new metro corridors. He stressed the need to integrate these with the existing infrastructure present.
On the much awaited Trans-Harbour Link Project, he mentioned that they were very close to awarding the tender.
He reminded the audience that the MMRDA was responsible for the satellite cities like Virar, Kalyan, and Panvel as well, and spoke about a planned Multimodal corridor to connect all the satellite towns to each other.
Housing was also touched upon, as Shri Madan spoke about the MMRDA’s completion of several rental and low income housing projects, but conceded that they were mostly located on the peripheries of the cities.
The audience, both those at the venue and those online, was then invited to ask questions.
Mrs. Malkani began by bringing up the issue of Skywalks, on which several questions had been received both on SMS as well as Twitter. He mentioned that were not people friendly, but that features such as escalators which had been installed were frequently vandalised and damaged by the public. He suggested that the MCGM, which was now the new owner of the Skywalks, could use advertisement rights from the Skywalks to generate funds for the upkeep of the facilities.
On the issue of a special committee to have been formed on the Preservation of Mithi River, he mentioned that there was no committee per se, but an authority had been set up and work was progressing at a steady pace under the purview of the MMRDA.
A key problem identified was that before the riverbanks could be developed, the water in the river had to be purified, as the current state of the river was essentially a flow of sewage. He lamented that the response from corporate houses, especially in the Bandra Kurla Complex area, was not very encouraging.
Many questions asked during the session were on the issue of the Skywalks, clearly illustrating the strong feelings of Mumbaikars on this subject, both for and against.
To a Skype question on antisocial elements on Skywalks, and hawkers setting up there, Shri Madan mentioned that it was a menace, but it was the MCGM which was responsible for handling it.
He mentioned that in light of the criticisms faced by the MMRDA for the Skywalks, he said that there were no plans to construct any new Skywalks in the near future.
Other popular topics were the Metro Rail Project, new Flyovers, and of course, Mumbai’s perineal problem, Potholed Roads.
To a question on what was his most challenging project, Shri Madan said that to him, every project had its own set of challenges, from rehabilitation, to land acquisition issues, and many more.
In response to a question on having a unified authority for the development of Mumbai, he pointed out the challenges that this would face, as there needed to be a balance between the autonomy of Local Governance Bodies, as well as the needs of a State Level body as well.
When asked about the MMRDA’s role in Solid Waste Management, he mentioned that recently, plots for Energy Generation Plants had been identified to generate electricity from waste. On the issue of Solar Power, he mentioned the efforts of the MMRDA towards Solar Street Lights. He reiterated that the MMRDA was not a Municipal Body, but an Urban Planning Body, and as such, focused its resources on certain key areas.
On the issue of Rainwater Harvesting on the roads, he mentioned that there were implementation issues, but if all buildings implemented rainwater harvesting techniques, it would be more than enough.
Shri Madan also touched on the efforts of other bodies like CIDCO towards Water Transport on the Eastern Waterfront of the city.
When asked about his expectation from the citizens, Shri Madan simply said that his job was to implement large projects for the benefit of the public. He requested the citizens to cooperate with them and bear the inconveniences during the construction of upcoming projects so as to reduce delays and get the construction completed sooner.
The session ended with the presentation of Certificates of Appreciation to students and faculty of the Somaiya Institute of Management, who had helped prepare a report on the role of ICT in achieving the Government’s Accessible India Programme. The certificates were presented by Shri Madan and Mr. Ranganathan.
A memento was then presented to Shri Madan by the Trustees, amid applause from the audience, as the programme came to an end.
Those whose questions could not be answered were assured that their questions would be forwarded to Shri Madan, and would be replied to through email, while some of those present at the venue continued the discussion over tea and refreshments.
To view the photos of the event click here.
To view the video of the event click here.
To view press coverage of the event click here.