About 10 days back, Mumbai Metro’s 2B Dream Line arrived right outside my workplace — or to be more specific, the groundwork for the Metro line — bringing disruption in its wake. The barriers used to cordon off the road proclaimed that the Metro was for the “bright future of the citizens”, and that Mumbai Metro was “Our Metro”.
But is it really? Let’s see.
Will the 20-odd shopkeepers who have lost their jobs and their livelihoods due to the Metro really consider it theirs? What future are they going to dream of when their present is destroyed?
What about the kaali peeli taxi stand who were unceremoniously asked to close down overnight? Already facing competition from the Olas and the Ubers, this would have been like the final nail in the coffin.
What about the number of trees that have already been cut and the many others that are awaiting the axe — all in the name of development? What about the birds and animals for whom these trees were home? An entire colony of bats that vanished overnight when their tree was cut.
These few instances are only from the short stretch of the road outside my workplace. When If one were to consider the entire city of Mumbai and the effect and cost of the Metro work, the mind boggles and leads to many questions.
Why is cost in every aspect of development so high?
Why does development leave out more people than benefits?
Why is development measured in terms of built structure and infrastructure? Why is it never measured, for instance, in the number of trees planted or area forested?
Why has destruction become synonymous with development?
Why are governments obsessed with a destruction-led development?
I guess I have just become cynical for words like “Development for All” and “Sustainable Development” are nothing but slogans. In a few months (years?), when the Metro is fully functional all this will be forgotten as will the people and environment affected by it. Don’t believe me? Just look at Central Mumbai’s mills and mill land. Instead of using this land to provide affordable housing to former textile mill workers, it has been given to malls, high-end restaurants, and premium office space and residences changing the skyline forever.
The Mumbai Metro is supposed to ease the commuting and traffic woes of the city with the reach and routes envisaged. Only time will tell if it really does. Will the Metro deliver its promise or turn into the disaster-that-is-the-Mumbai-Monorail?
But for the people affected by it, the Metro will be a bitter reminder of livelihoods and homes lost. While change is inevitable, it almost always happens at the expense of someone’s else’s dreams, livelihoods. Change is inevitable, but it can be cruel too.
Mumbai Lens is a photographic series which, as the name suggests, is Mumbai-centric and is an attempt to capture the various moods of the city through my camera lens. You can read more posts from this series here.