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Navi Mumbai- The City In Demand
Navi mumbai, the land of lush green hills and the dreamy view of the sea, has now become as busy and bustling as its mother city, mumbai.
Where else in Mumbai, or close to Mumbai, can you come back to a home surrounded by green hills, or have the view of the sea for an affordable price? Well, in Navi Mumbai it is possible. Belapur, the Central Business District (CBD) is nestled in between hills, while Palm Beach Road, Nerul has a great view of the mangroves and the sea. Even the other nodes like Koparkhairne, Airoli, Sanpada, Panvel have their own advantages.

Shifting sights
For many, Navi Mumbai promised affordable housing and bigger flats, which is why they made the big shift from Mumbai. Today the real estate prices in Vashi boast of being more expensive than a few places in Mumbai. For those with large families, Navi Mumbai is the only place where one can afford a palatial penthouse or a four-bedroom flat with a view. For the others, most nodes of Navi Mumbai offer row houses, independent houses and flats at affordable rates.

Vashi is probably the queen of Navi Mumbai. Shopping malls, wide roads, good schools, great markets and good BEST and NMMT service, have made this node the most popular. Sheryl Soanes has been in Vashi since 1985. "Both my husband and I have retired but there is so much to do in Vashi. I prefer to go to the market and pay the bills myself since walking around this area is pleasant. When we moved here, there was not much around, so for shopping we had to go to Bandra or Chembur, but now we have Center One, the sector 9 market and plenty of places to shop," says Soanes.

Schools rule
Educational facilities are also a major reason for people preferring Navi Mumbai. There are about 10 engineering Colleges in Navi Mumbai, medical colleges, degree colleges, catering colleges and several professional courses. One can also have a choice of boards for high school education-Central Board, State Board and ICSE... depending on ones preference.

Stanny Monteiro, who moved to Koparkhairne from Chembur, reminisces, "We bought this house about 11 years ago and have seen the place develop. What I like about Navi Mumbai are the educational facilities that are far better from most schools of Mumbai and affordable too." His wife Christina adds, "Today we have the bus depot just a couple of kilometers away that connect us to the rest of the city and Mumbai. With regards to housing, I like space that Navi Mumbai offers. We have plenty of space in front and behind our house making it a great place for gardening and for the kids to play around. This itself is a luxury."

While educational facilities are the preference of some people, others prefer the peace that Navi Mumbai offers. Shubha Satam, resident of Belapur is very happy with her house in the Artists Colony. "With the extra FSI, our house is much bigger now and in dependent. For me, the serene surroundings itself are inspiring and I sometimes wonder how people live surrounded by busy roads and malls in the city," says Satam.

Easy living
For some the city has proved to be a great place professionally and personally Dr Vidya Pathare and her husband Haresh who is a gynecologist, moved to Airoli 12 years ago, when it was totally undeveloped. "There were only ST buses plying to Thane and other parts of the city. Today we are happy we made Airoli our choice as the connectivity is become so much better. With the Mulund-Airoli Bridge, our access to Mumbai has quickened and places like Powai, Mulund are just 10-15 minutes away. Especially after working hard during the week in Navi Mumbai, weekends are fun with these places so close by."

Nerul resident, Shilpa Pathak who works in Nariman Point, finds the train travel very convenient. "We have trains from Nerul that offer sitting place, which itself is a luxury. Nerul is quite green and I also have the time and the space for a leisurely walk every Sunday. I had this luxury only in Anushakti Nagar in Chembur. When my father retired and we moved to Nerul, I was not sure if Nerul had any peaceful spot. But now that I have got used to the place, I find it more eaceful. There are plenty of places where I can enjoy an evening walk."

Looking back
CIDCO began the development of Navi Mumbai on a nodal basis, after earmarking the entire landmass into 14 different nodes in 1970. Till the Mankhurd-Vashi railway line was commissioned in 1992, Navi Mumbai grew at a snails pace. All development activity was focussed on Vashi right from 1975 to 1990, due to its proximity to Chembur. Airoli was developed as a predominantly housing node attracting mainly the blue collared workers of big companies like Philips, NOCIL, Siemens located on the Thane-Belapur road nearby. The Airoli-Mulund bridge was the turning point for this node, making accessibility to Mumbai just a couple of minutes away.

Next to be developed was Kalamboli in 1990, which picked up after the wholesale iron and steel markets shifted from Mumbai to Kalamboli in 1988. Koparkhairne got a boost after Dhirubhai Ambani Knowledge City (DAKC) was set up offering great employment opportunities and real estate prices shot up in this node, which is considered as the poor cousin of Vashi.

New Panvel has its own set of buyers because of its the flyovers connecting it to other nodes, proximity to the Expressway and affordable housing. The Thane-Turbhe rail link made Navi Mumbai easily accessible from Thane and offered easy transport for most people working on the congested Thane-Belapur Road and MIDC. Center One, the first shopping mall lent glamour to Vashi and there are at least five new malls in the offing that will make Navi Mumbai a destination for shopping.

Today, Navi Mumbai boasts of wide roads, opulent railway stations, shopping malls, lots of greenery and practically all the trappings of a happening city, minus the congestion and chaos its neighbours, Mumbai and Thane. Information Technology (IT) has been the thrust of the citys growth and alone has created over a lakh job opportunity.
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Posted on : 3/11/2005
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