Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Changing Face of Parel

Parel, both Upper Parel and Lower Parel, together with the neighbouring Elphinston, Lalbaug, Mahalaxmi was once upon a time an area full of Mills. Scores of cotton and textile mills used to be in these areas, as well as numerous chawls that housed their workers. Those industries and their mills are now a thing of the past. The real-estate landscape in these areas- in Central Mumbai to be precise- has changed. No longer are these areas considered to be down-market. They have been transformed into one of the costliest areas outside South Mumbai. 

No longer will you be able to see acres and acres of land that housed Mills. One of the last Mills' bastion, Dawn Mills, has also gone under the bulldozer and is paving way for a commercial complex, i think. Or is it residential complex? Or a bit of both? I do not know for sure, but much land in and around this area now houses pricey residences and plush offices. These pictures that I clicked were also taken from one of such plush, new-age glass office buildings called India Bulls Centre. 

But instead of mindless development, I would like to see some of the following things. 

If not all, then perhaps save a few of these Mills. These are heritage structures and a reminder of the old Bombay. These Mills were once upon a time one of Bombay's most thriving industries. The city may have moved ahead, but we should never forget the foundation on which this great city was built. The sight of large chimneys inside the Mill compounds built with stones, instead of bricks, are somewhat of a heritage structure.  I would like to see few of these remaining mills (I am not particularly sure if there are any, to begin with, but just in case...) convert into textile museums and sight-seeing tours be organised, for both Indians and foreigners, to showcase Bombay's rich heritage and ancient culture. Beautifully landscaped gardens must be built in the compound areas to welcome visitors. 

Then, I would like to see a top-class hospital, but not a pricey, 5-star one like Lilavati, though Lilavati is a great hospital and one of Mumbai's finest but that's not my point. I would like to see a hospital that caters to the lower and middle income class. I would not mind at all if there is a separate facility or complex for the upper class population, but essentially a hospital for the poor, something like the King Edward Memorial (KEM) hospital, would be a great addition to the city's landscape. Medical facilities are always welcome in Mumbai- a place that is bursting at its seams, with an ever-increasing population.

I would also like a world-class education institution in this area. What better place in central Mumbai- that is so accessible to the rest of the city- than Parel to have Mumbai's very own Indian Institute of Management (IIM). Mumbai already has its own Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), and one of the many things I would like to see is Mumbai being a rare place to have an IIM as well as IIT here. But if we cannot have an IIM here, then we may as well have another class educational institution in these areas. 

I would like to see a huge garden or a park here, somewhere on the lines of New York's Central Park. Though we don't have a large area here at our disposal like Central Parks', a green patch in Mumbai is much required. We could even call it Central Park, since Parel is often referred to as Central Mumbai.

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