Story of a City: After Land Reclamation Come the Challenges

Going against the natural laws of nature can wreak havoc. Land reclamation is perhaps one of the most unnatural processes that often come at a cost. Today, Bombay exists as Mumbai and the stark contrast between the two eras of these names is present vividly. Although land reclamation helped build Bombay, today, it faces a multitude of challenges.

Land reclamation never seems to end. Image source: The Asian Age

Despite the creation of newly habitable areas and increased business and agricultural activities, the land reclamation of Bombay has found many critics.

Although exclusive elite residential spaces were created, the reality is quite different today. Around 60% of Mumbai's population lives in slums. Dharavi, once a spot on the edge of Bombay inhabited by the Koli fishing community, is now considered the heart of Mumbai. Many migrants, new workers, and those struggling to pay high rents on meagre salaries often find a place here.

Critics claim that the city is constantly at war with itself. First, it had to change and undergo reclamation, battle the sea and emerge anew. Once that happened, it had to deal with the sea of people that now seems to be drowning the city in its waste, poor management, and the loss of an identity that threatens to disappear.

After the land reclamation project, the focus shifted to architecture. And rightly said, Bombay's buildings are an architectural marvel. They embody grace and history in Indo-Saracenic architecture. But this old world is now being uprooted and replaced by modern constructions.

Bombay isn't known as Bombay anymore; it's called Mumbai.

It doesn't come as a shock when someone mentions the cost of real estate in Mumbai. Real estate is much more valuable than gold. While this development shows progress, it is in more than one way suffocating and drowning the city.

Indiscriminate construction has put enormous pressure on the land causing large parts to flood during monsoons. The need for redevelopment has sent builders into such a frenzy that perfectly alright buildings are torn down to make way for new ones. Excessive construction has caused water streams to change their course. This marks a shift in the original reclamation plan. 

Over the years, the land reclamation of Bombay has come through in many ways. With time, Bombay evolved and began to be called Mumbai. The city is teeming with people, and spaces change with each generation. Large parts of Mumbai are now paved and concretised.

It must be kept in mind that an unnatural process like reclamation comes at a huge cost, and one needs to understand nature to make reclamation work.  As the city grows and faces some insurmountable challenges, people wonder if the city will stand to face the wrath of the sea from where it was born.

Nevertheless, Mumbai, the city of dreams, reclaimed from the sea, represents an extraordinary human feat in history. Its evolution from sevens islets to becoming the financial capital of India is nothing short of phenomenal.


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