What's the article about?
- It examines the recently inaugurated Mumbai Trans Harbour Link Bridge, the Atal Setu, from an urban development perspective.
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- Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link bridge, the Atal Setu, last week.
- Completed 60 years after its initial design, the bridge has been advertised as a symbol of the city and the country’s development, its world-class status.
- However, urban planners around the world have learned from their mistakes of 50 years and moved on to a different mode of city-making — one that is firmly embedded in urban ecology, and which dissuades car transit.
- Rethinking Past Paradigms: Moving Beyond Car-Centric Infrastructure
- Urban planning practices have evolved significantly since the Atal Setu's initial design in the 1960s. Today, a paradigm shift prioritizes urban ecology and pedestrian-oriented development, eschewing car-centric infrastructure as a primary solution to congestion.
- Viewed through this lens, the Atal Setu, along with projects like the coastal road, represents an outdated approach, potentially exacerbating existing environmental challenges.
- Environmental Footprint of Infrastructure: Beyond Traffic Jams
- Beyond aggravating traffic congestion, research indicates that car-dependent infrastructure plays a key role in fueling the climate crisis.
- The rapid concretization of Mumbai, exemplified by projects like the Atal Setu, has demonstrably impacted air quality and rainwater management, highlighting the need for planning that recognizes the intricate relationship between infrastructure and urban ecosystems.
- A Silver Lining in Slow Progress: Preserving Vital Green Spaces
- While the sluggish pace of infrastructure development in Mumbai may appear detrimental, it has inadvertently preserved crucial green spaces such as wetlands, gardens, and playgrounds.
- These pockets of urban ecology perform vital services, mitigating climate vulnerability and fostering resilience. As cities like Mumbai grapple with increasing climate stressors, these existing natural assets become invaluable resources.
- Reimagining Infrastructure for a Sustainable Future: A Call for Context-Sensitive Planning
- Instead of blindly pursuing outdated plans like the concretization of the Mahalaxmi Racecourse, the time is ripe for reimagining infrastructure development for the future.
- This requires an approach that integrates ecological considerations, addresses the air quality crisis, and leverages existing open spaces as integral components of urban resilience.
- The Atal Setu stands as a reminder of Mumbai's evolving urban development story. While celebrating past achievements is essential, it is equally crucial to learn from historical approaches and adapt to the challenges of the present.
- Mumbai's slow infrastructure progress, ironically, presents a unique opportunity to revise existing plans and embrace a truly sustainable future for the city.
- By prioritizing context-sensitive planning and leveraging existing environmental assets, Mumbai can bridge the gap between past legacies and future aspirations, ensuring a thriving metropolis for generations to come.
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