By Marianne Bray
CNN


Tuesday, October 4, 2005 Posted: 0906 GMT (1706 HKT)

**MUMBAI, India (CNN) -- The leaders of Mumbai have been pushing to emulate
China's glittering commercial capital of Shanghai.**

They reasoned the cities had many similarities. Shanghai and Mumbai provided
the major ports for aspiring nations with more than 1 billion people apiece;
they were key financial hubs and they were ready to take off as global cities
leading the way in the 21st century.

But their fortunes have diverged. Since 1987, Shanghai has morphed into
a futuristic city, with space-age skyscrapers lining the newly developed
business area of Pudong, a zone that also hosts an international airport that
opened in 1999.

The "Paris of the East" has the world's first magnetic levitation train
that carries travelers 30 kilometers (19 miles) in seven minutes and a
Metro system that has four lines and will have another eight by 2010.

The city of 17 million people is also home to one of the world's busiest
ports; a ring road expressway and industrial parks. All of this was achieved
at a cost of $40 billion, funded by a massive surge of foreign investment
and the government.

Fly over to the coastal city of Mumbai, also home to around 17 million
people, and you see one of the world's most populous metropolitan areas
crumbling under its own weight.

Asia's largest slums sit not far from the fringes of the main runway,
and along almost every road and rail track in the city that looks out over
the Arabian Sea. On July 26, a 37-inch (94-centimeter) deluge in 24 hours
that some residents called an act of God was compounded by unchecked
development and decrepit infrastructure, closing the commercial capital
down, and killing 406 people in the city alone.

The roads in Mumbai are so bad, and often so full of potholes, that a
16-kilometer journey can take 1.5 hours. There is no underground railway
and an outdated rent control act means that many colonial buildings look
as if they haven't been touched since the British left more than 50 years
ago. In late August a four-story building toppled in a manner of minutes.


The future of "India's New York" appeared so bad that a 2003 report by
the management consultant firm McKinsey and Co. said if action wasn't
taken now "it is in grave danger of collapsing completely."

The authors of the report, which was supported by business lobby Bombay
First, urged the government to spend $40 billion during the next 10 years
to make it a world-class city.

"Mumbai is woefully behind the times," says Akshaya Kumar, head of Colliers
International for India.

"It is 30 years behind what the city needs. It needs a huge political will
and investment along with a magic wand."

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