Mumbai Is Facing Rampant Transport Issues. And Only One Thing Can Solve It

Mumbai, the financial capital of India, with a population of 18.41 million people (as per the Census of 2011), is one of the most densely populated cities in the world. It is an intricate amalgamation of business, money, trade, transport, films, fame, and food with its world-famous Vada Pav. And the Dabbawallahs’ food delivery system is one of the most efficient and best-managed networks in the world.

Although this city is has a unique cultural heritage, it faces an acute shortage of land and basic infrastructure facilities which have unfortunately not kept up with the city’s demands. Several reports claim that an estimated 60-62% of the city lives in slums (the most expensive being Dharavi) and try to earn a living while begging for food and money on the busy streets every day.

Mumbai’s public transport system consists of a suburban Indian rail network (Central, Western, Harbour), bus system as well as private black-and-yellow taxis and autorickshaws. It is believed that the suburban rail network carries over 7.5 million commuters and public buses operated by Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) service carry about an approximate 3.65 million commuters every day.

It is true that Mumbai accounts for slightly more than 6.16% of India’s economic growth. It is the wealthiest city in South, West and Central Asia, which is a fact of pride for most of us. Unfortunately, the quality of public transport infrastructure in Mumbai is on a steady decline, which adversely affects the time and energy Mumbaikars spend on travel. There is barely any coordination between organisations which could partake in the building and maintaining of road networks, further worsening the situation for the citizens.

A leading transport service for 164 years, train transport facilities are considered a major lifeline for this sleepless city. However, it has not expanded its capacity to accommodate the rising population. If a train ever gets delayed due to unforeseen circumstances, an increasing number of passengers raid the platforms till they can board a train. When a train is on the verge of halting, more than twice as many cram into the entrance of the doors, trying their best to secure space for standing inside the aisles. Or they at least, stand on the footboard of the train while struggling to get inside the train compartment.

In the last 10 years, 25,722 people have fallen off moving trains, of which 6,989 people died due to losing their grip while trying to get into a jam-packed boogie or hitting an electric pole while in motion. There have been alarming cases of deaths due to suffocation, heart attacks and seizures triggered due to a fatal drop in oxygen levels.

There has always been a need to integrate the Indian Railways with other modes of transport, like the Metro project and the betterment of road facilities. The Traffic Department struggles to manage the vehicular density at sites where metro projects are underway (currently the Dahisar-Mankhurd Line and the Colaba-Bandra-SEEPZ line). Besides that, acquiring special permissions for reconstruction of roads from bodies such as the MMRDA, BMC and MSRDC take not just months, but years; and still the city ends up with broken and incomplete road projects due to the cheap quality of products that some bodies use.

Frequent travellers on the road often have to put up with dug-up roads and bottlenecks and sometimes have to wait in the scorching heat. This problem gets further catalysed because of erratic vehicle movement – due to autorickshaw drivers and two-wheelers who try and cram into any room they get. Continuous driving on such roads riddled with potholes has had negative effects on the human body, with an increasing level of stress, spine-related problems (majorly spondylitis), chronic neck-related problems, etc. Several bike riders have lost their lives at having abruptly encountered these potholes and deep craters.

So how do we overcome this hullabaloo? In my opinion, a single governing organization needs to be established. It should have a long-term goal of how the city’s infrastructure needs to be properly redesigned and smoothly executed in order to stay at par with the ever-increasing population. It should be well coordinated so as to prevent an aggrandisement of confusion of each person coming up with their own ideas. It also needs to collaborate with Mumbai’s public transport and form a meandering, break-free chain so that citizens can travel effortlessly, thereby preventing them from being stranded. This will not only help in completing projects on time but also help sustain thrift investments in future projects. An efficient infrastructural planning can only be done if such an organization is initiated in this democratic city of the Mumbaikars, for the Mumbaikars and by the Mumbaikars.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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