Another hostage situation. Guess who the terrorists are?

Imagine 50,000 families stuck in dingy apartments in nearly 20,000 old and dilapidated buildings in the island city of Mumbai. A few of these old buildings fall down every year. Every year around 20-50 people die. Those who live, live in sub-human conditions. People want to shift, they dont want to be the victims in the next collapse but they have nowhere to go. The government can build transit accommodation but it has better things to do. The residents want bigger areas than the dingy ones they currently inhabit. They want more units as their families grow.  These residents could all but be hostages, just that there are no gun wielding terrorists here from across the border. They suffer the fear and anxiety till they feel none. Millions go through the inconveniences these old and crumbling areas offer, the insane traffic conditions, the dirt and filth from crumbling sewage systems, till it doesnt affect them anymore.

The people and the politicians should have been sending in good legislation to the rescue of the hostages but none arrives in time. Even as the hostages hold on, the elite have coffee table discussions on holding on to the heritage of the area and how FSI increases will kill the city. The hostages watch saas bahu and balika vadhu.

There are a few solutions. There can be a new Master Plan for the whole island city. There are some people who are willing to do what it takes to try out a Pilot of the idea. They wait on the sidelines to move in and negotiate. The Government will dither and dither on taking a call. The CM wants to be sure it yields electoral advantage for him. More importantly can any money be made in it? The housing bureaucrats visit Shanghai looking for solutions.

The Regional Development Authority and the Municipal Corporation, which should be the ones taking the initiative and kickstarting a planning revolution. But they are nowhere at the scene. The people are held hostage. This is not a recent phenomenon. The solution could have been found decades ago. For decades buildings have fallen thus and people suffered areas, which need to be planned for the times.

They are all hostage to an unimaginative, faltering and cowardly society and politicians. Hostages to themselves.

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