Mumbai is on the verge of becoming the second-biggest city in the world. But to get there, redevelopment will require the displacement of thousands, if not millions.
"Mumbai is South Asia's biggest city. By 2015 the UN says it will be the world's second-biggest after Tokyo, with nearly 25m people. Yet already it is choking. Around half the population-of 14m, at a modest estimate-live in slums. Another 3m commute daily from surrounding suburbs. Most come by rail, though the service would be inadequate even if it were not hobbled by a shortage of trains and a surfeit of vagrants. At peak hours, 5,000 commuters cling to trains designed for 1,700. Hundreds die on the tracks each year."
"Mumbaikars have long seen the trouble ahead. In recent years, the state and central governments have recognised it too. There is much at stake, for India as well as Mumbai. Its recent high economic growth is an urban phenomenon. Indeed, the failure of rural India is why so many Indians come to town. Huge improvements in urban infrastructure are needed urgently."
"But there is a problem. To redevelop Mumbai and its hinterland involves moving people. And since in India third-world conditions are dignified (at least in theory) with first-world rights, this causes blockages."