ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Land-Use in Bombay

Land-Use in Bombay Nigel Harris SHIRISH PATELs article 'A Second Financial Centre for Bombay: Where Should It Be?' (EPW, August 7-14, 1993) raised some important issues for the future of Bombay, and his stimulating discussion goes to the heart of many of the problems concerning the interaction between public authorities and private markets, an issue of increasing importance in the light of national economic reform. However, while he argues well for his particular proposal, he does not confront the underlying issue: the appropriateness of government trying to guess the best distribution of activity and then using its powers directly to achieve this. The alternative process-now most fashionable and underlying the union government's reform programme-is for the government, while protecting some basic facilities, to seek to establish a framework that reflects real costs and benefits to India so that thousands of private operators will be obliged to make decisions in that interest. The Indian tradition, like that elsewhere, is heavily for the first option, yet the waste involved in this is everywhere apparent, and the waste is paid for by the mass of Indians, including those whom Shirish Patel seeks to defend. At the moment, the framework impels rational developers of land to behave, from the viewpoint of the best use of India's resources, irrationally-thus obliging further government intervention to set matters right, but creating yet further problems.

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