Shanghaiing Mumbai

Written by Sanjay Jog | Mumbai, Oct 30 | Updated: Oct 31 2007, 07:41am hrs
Former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who transformed the island nation into a global financial centre, on Tuesday suggested that policymakers should consider separating Mumbai from the rest of Maharashtra.

At a time when around 300 families arrive in Mumbai daily, it is impossible to bear the additional burden and upgrade infrastructure. Thus, Mumbai should be constituted as a self-governing state like Shanghai, Lee said. In this set-up, the Mumbai mayor would enjoy powers of a provincial governor.

At the interaction organised by state finance minister Jayant Patil, Lee clarified that he was merely suggesting a solution. I am aware that Mumbai is a cash cow. If taken away, who would provide the milk Ultimately, the decision has to be taken by the government, which will always fear losing votes, he said.

Citing the Shanghai example, Lee said the city contributes 70% of its revenue to the federal government, which is ploughed back to upgrade the infrastructure and boost its development.

Patil, however, differed. Mumbai is an integral part of Maharashtra and there is no question of its separation from the rest of the state. All attempts will be made to strengthen its infrastructure and emulate various concepts used by Singapore, he noted.

Yew's suggestion comes barely ten days after Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray said his party would foil any attempt to separate Mumbai from Maharashtra.