MUMBAI/ Visionary Suburb Planning: The role of Eastern Avenue (1910-1920)
The role of Eastern Avenue (1910-1920)
To correspond to the suburb development in the north, the Trust believed that there was an urge to construct broad north-south avenues. It noted that,
“…the full value of the projected Suburbs in the north of the Island cannot be realized with out increased facilities for direct and rapid communication with the business quarters…”
Although it formed a figurative link on the map of Bombay, it actually failed to create an effective linkage in directing people from the southern part of the city to the northern part. A newspaper article critically responded to the proposed avenue,
“The population will be displaced, rentals raised, overcrowding enhanced, improvement of insanitary areas retarded, fresh slums added: magnificent sequel to an expenditure on the road of over a crore of rupees, and twenty years’ labor on its operation, to say nothing of disaffection and discontent on the part of the displaced residents!”
The construction executed a brutal move to cut a new road through a series of clustered neighborhoods. It aroused much local opposition, especially the southernmost part of the avenue, which was densely congested. The Memon community were discontented about the destruction of their community. The avenue did not impose any immediate benefits on their already long-standing neighborhood. Not only the local residents, but the local merchants also complained about the destruction of their ‘legitimate business secured after many years’ patient and hard labor’. (Prashant Kidambi, 2007)
Secondly, the actual migration from the south to the north was not as rapid as planned. With the lack of cheap means of transit to the suburbs and sufficient funding for the planning, only a very small portion of population migrated northwards on account of the construction of the avenue. The avenue was of no paramount or urgent needs to the city or the neighborhoods. Vishvanath P. Vadiya, a civil engineer argued that it was unlikely that the residents would abandon their existing neighborhoods and associations to migrate and relocate to the suburb. By the end of 1920s, ‘a suburban region about six times the surface of Bombay city only contained one-eight of its population’. (Hazareesingh, 2007) The Municipal Corporation argued that the Trust’s visionary planning of a ‘grand avenue’ entailed ‘the continued sacrifice of human lives’. (Prashant Kidambi, 2007)
Kidambi, P. (2007). The making of an Indian metropolis: Colonial governance and public culture in Bombay, 1890-1920. Aldershot, England: Ashgate.
Orr. (1910). Annual Report of the Bombay Improvement Trust, 1910-11, Appendix M (1).
Goftar, R. (1911). Report on Native Newspapers, Bombay Presidency, 45.
Hazareesingh, S. (2007). The colonial city and the challenge of modernity: Urban hegemonies and civic contestations in Bombay city, 1900-1925. Hyderabad, India: Orient Longman.