BBC World News Horizons heads to Mumbai

In the sixteenth episode of the Horizons series, presenters Adam Shaw and Saima Mohsin head to Mumbai, India; Sao Paulo, Brazil; and London, UK to look at the solutions being implemented to re-energise megacities and tackle urban decay in three of the world’s largest metropolitan areas.

As of 2012, there are 23 megacities; defined as metropolitan areas with a total population in excess of 10 million people. By 2025, it is estimated there will be 36 megacities, 12 of which will be in the developing world.

Saima Mohsin travels to Navi (new) Mumbai, a planned satellite township in the most populous city in India, Mumbai. Claiming to be the largest planned city in the world, construction of Navi Mumbai began in 1971 with the aim of relieving the pressure on Mumbai, which now has a population of approximately 20.5 million. The new urban area currently houses 14 townships, with six more scheduled in the years ahead. It is estimated that it will have an official population of two million people and support one million jobs.

Saima also visits Navi Mumbai’s Central Park, a large scale open space modelled on the concept of Hyde Park in London, which has now become a popular green district enclosing playgrounds, an amphitheatre and restaurants.

Shirish Patel, Director of Planning and Works, City and Industrial Development Corporation, said: “Land and resource is the main reason [for fast-paced growth], this is the main financial stay of this city… Land is being controlled and fully owned by us, so this city can be better regulated and directed. All the land is leased to people…we rent out the land for various uses.”

Adam Shaw is in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the largest city in the Americas and one of the biggest urban sprawls on the planet. Adam focuses on the Nova Luz Project, which is hoping to restore and transform a run-down area in the centre of the city and create a densely populated but well designed district with excellent transport links.

This is Brazil’s largest attempt at urban regeneration. Developers are looking to invest nearly $2 billion in the Nova Luz scheme by bulldozing skyscrapers, upgrading transport infrastructure and renovating cultural buildings in a bid to stop Sao Paulo’s outward sprawl. A so called 30 minute city, residents will be able to move between work, play and recreation within half an hour.

Miguel Bucalem, Secretary for Urban Planning and Municipality of Sao Paulo, explained: “Nova Luz is an area that has the best accessibility in the city. We have right now three metro lines that go to Nova Luz and four train lines, so it is an area that is connected from the city to the metropolitan area by high capacity rail system. What we want is to achieve the density in this area that is compatible with the infrastructure that the area has.”

Finally Saima travels to London, UK, home of the 2012 Olympic Games and one of Europe’s largest urban renewal projects. She finds out how the hope is that a short term event will shape a long term positive legacy. The London Games have already created the largest urban park Europe has seen for more than a century. Here, the focus has been on the redevelopment of a semi-derelict, post-industrial site in East London nearly 300 football pitches in size. The aim is to build a commercial high tech district, five new neighbourhoods with 8,000 homes,8,000 jobs and a blueprint for future regeneration projects around the world.

Andrew Altman, CEO, London Legacy Development Corporation, said: “This was 500 acres of industrial site, which had overhead wires, it had contaminated land, and it had polluted waterways. All of that has been cleaned up and the best of urban development practice all put in to create a platform for a new part of the megacity. The way that it was done from the beginning, that the London Olympics was thought of, as a regeneration project, as a major infrastructure project tied to the growth of London and tied to trying to improve the lives of some of the poorest communities in London and the UK was very important.”

The Horizons series, sponsored by DuPont, airs weekly on BBC World News on Saturday 7.00am & 2.00pm and Sunday 8.00pm and 1.00am.

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