Just when I start to think that Bombay is a world-class city, ridiculousness ensues. The BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation) ? the org responsible for overseeing city planning ? has recently gone on a rash of demolitions against illegal structures. The demolitions have included not only slums ? something like 60,000 have been destroyed so far ? but also local restaurants or businesses that have, say, an unlawful mezzanine or an unauthorized wall.
The destruction of the slums is horrible, and people have expressed outrage that only poor people were being targeted. So, in order to seem fair, the BMC decided to go after big money places, too. That includes restaurants, such as Colaba’s Koyla, destroyed on Tuesday, and Seijo and the Soul Dish, a very high-style, month-old restaurant in Bandra (owned by friends of friends of mine), which was destroyed yesterday.
Does this make any sense? Of course not! The policy is completely misguided. For instance, Seijo’s owners invested at least a quarter-million dollars to open the place. And, as it had become one of Bandra’s new hotspot, it would certainly have generated tax revenue (hello!) for some time to come. And, BMC, have you ever considered levying a fine against these establishments?
I can think of plenty of uses for such funds. For instance, how about using the money earned from taxes or fines for building adequate, legal housing for Bombay’s poor? Or, how about using the funds for repairing the sidewalks? Or, how about repairing the roads so it doesn’t take five hours to drive 80 kilometers?
My big question is how come the BMC doesn’t work to publicize zoning laws before structures are built? In fact, there are in Bombay quite a number of half-completed buildings, abandoned due to zoning problems or the drying-up of investments. If the BMC is so excited about tearing things down, why don’t they tear down these unsightly buildings?
To make matters worse, Seijo was supposed to hold a press conference about tsunami relief yesterday evening. Instead, the press came to film the demolition crews. According to my source, the BMC didn’t start the demolition until the news crews arrived. Figures.
Sorry, Mumbai. You’re never going to be another New York ? or even a Shanghai ? if this is how you operate.