After spending 4 days at the MIDC in Ambernath on the outskirts of Mumbai, it took a good 2 hour drive to get back to the airport. The ride was far from comfortable with pot holes more than roads, intermittent rains, Dahi Handi preparations marking Janmashtami. It was truly enjoyable even through all the turbulence seeing the colorful Dahi Handis along the way, energy filled people moving in lorry loads, loud music and dance. It was truly a sight worth watching – truly so Mumbai!
The trip was special as it was the first time we were doing a study for a SSI unit in this region. The people at the unit were amazing, extremely hospitable, warm and very cooperative with the study. The stay was interesting as we had to hop hotels on the first day. The only qualm that i carry back is that i could not have “kanda poha”. Each time we would drive through Ambernath to visit some unit, we had to be reminded that we were in an industrial estate near mumbai – as most of the time we were driving through ghat type roads, amidst hillocks, with low hanging clouds, almost nil traffic and lush green surroundings – it resembled more of a remote village and not an extension of the great metro.
Some interesting observations:
- There is a huge segment of employees and employers beyond the highly talked about IT and ITeS sectors and they are contributing to the economy in wonderful ways
- The SSI units in such far flung areas are doing interesting jobs but don’t get too much attention
- There is a lot left in terms of infrastructure, as much of the MIDC had bad roads and a lot of open land
- The connectivity from the inside of the MIDC to the nearest station or bus stop was quite poor
- The approach roads to the units were also not as good as the ones leading to the IT Parks
- There was very less number of the young graduates visible across these units. More educated youth need to take part in the fundamental sectors
After all the challenges and opportunities that i noticed during my stay and post the long drive, the Mumbai Airport was definitely an impressive sight. When we can make airports like the CSIA it gives me great confidence that solving the above infrastructure challenges is just another small task and will be done if we take cognizance.
Apart from the observations, the Dahi Handhi preparatory sight seeing, monsoon rains, vada pav, and some learnings from the interesting interactions during the study I also got to catch up with a classmate after about 5 years (thanks to FB).
Yes as I sit connected through free WiFi at CSIA writing this – I cannot help but realize that this is one place where I would love to come back sometime