The Mumbai-Pune industrial belt is the most important industrial region of the country. The region owes its origin to the British rule in India. The British got the Mumbai Island as a marriage gift of Catherine of Braganza’s dowry in 1661.
The seizure of Cassette in 1774, the collapse of Maratha power in 1818, the opening of the Bhorghat to Pune in 1830, the opening of steamer service through Suez Canal in 1843 and the opening of the first railway track of 32 km in 1853 between Mumbai and Thane were the heydays in the history of the development of Mumbai. Today it is the largest industrial conurbation in the country.
The growth of this region is intimately connected with the history of the development of cotton textile industry in India. The natural port facilities provided the best stimulant for the export of raw cotton to Hongkong; later the industries were started in the Mumbai region itself to export finished cotton goods. Being far removed from the country’s coal belt it had to develop its hydel power in the Western Ghats (Tata hydel power stations at Khopali, Bhivpuri, Bhiraand Koyna; thermal power station at Choi near Kalyan; and atomic power plants at Trombay and Tarapur).
The coastal district of Ratnagiri provided skilled and unskilled labour at the initial stages of development. The Thai Ghat and Bhor Ghat provided vital connecting links with the rest of the peninsular hinterland in the leeward side of the Western Ghats. This hinterland of Mumbai was rich in cotton culivation and naturally there is no wonder why it has become the present ‘cotton polis’ of India.
Mumbai-Pune two cities constitute a functional economic region despite the distance separating their centers. A fast electrified rail-line connects them, and Pune is inevitably drawn within Mumbai’s dominance. The region is much involved in the textile industry which occupies 42 per cent of the total factory workers. Of the remaining workers 20 per cent are engaged in engineering industries, 7 per cent in food processing, 6 percent in chemical, 2 per cent in metal and about 23 per cent in miscellaneous industries.
There are more than 6,000 registered factories in Greater Mumbai: Of these about 330 belong to textile, 800 to engineering, 190 to food proving, 216 to chemical, 50 to leather processing and tries.
The city alone has about 20 per cent of the spindle age and 30 per cent of the total loom age in country. The bulk of the production consists of textured cloth made from medium cotton yarn; lo cloth, shirting, domestics and sheeting’s account f 50 per cent of the production; the remaining consign of dhoties and coloured piece goods. Many mi have taken specialisation in fine and super fabrics.
Textiles have lost ground relatively as mo forward- looking electrical and mechanical trade have been developing while modernisation and expansion of the textile industry have been held back in the interests of the household and small scale industrial sectors. Besides textiles electrical goods, engineering, petroleum refining, transport equipments, rubber products, paper, electronic goods, leather, synthetic and plastic goods, drugs and food processing are other important industries of the region.
Tata makes buses and heavy trucks (on license from Mercedes), International make tractors, Premier Automobiles make cars, trucks and buses, and Mahindra monopolise the manufacture of jeeps, all of them in Mumbai.
Pune is the second important centre of the region housing about 1,150 registered factories. It has favoured the development of metallurgical, chemical and various other industries. Pune has two factories making motor scooters and mopeds.
These plants provide a market for numerous manufactures of parts and accessories. Besides Mumbai and Pune other important centers of the region are Kurla, Ghatkopar, Vile Parle, Jogeshwari, Andheri, Thane, Nashik, Bhandup, Kalyan, Pipri, Kirkee, Ambarnath, Trombay, Solapur, Kolhapur, Ulhasnagar, Hadapsar, Kurla and Vikroli. There are about 1,300 and 250 registered factories in Thane and Nashik respectively. The industrial belt provides sustenance to more than 15 lakh industrial workers.
Problems and Prospects
Like the Kolkata-Hugli region the Mumbai- Pune region is also facing a number of problems, these began with the partition of the country when India lost 21 percent of the cotton acreage, including about 81 per cent of irrigated cotton land and 39 per
cent of the cotton yield to Pakistan in 1947.
This included 45 per cent of the medium and long staple cotton which are the essential raw materials for products of finer counts. Against this India also lost about 30 per cent of the cotton market in Pakistan. Hence, the cotton mills had to face the acute shortage of raw materials which is met up by international import and grow more cotton campaign launched in the western India. Fuel and power have always presented a problem because the region is situated far away from the coal producing areas of Jharkhand, West Bengal, and Chhattisgarh.
At present the power crisis is met up by the development of hydel power along the steep slopes of the Western Ghats and nuclear power station at Tarapur near Mumbai. The lack of space is another great problem faced by the industries. Due to its insular location Mumbai is currently facing geographical limitations the limitations of space for industrial expansion.
It has become uneconomic to reclaim further land from the sea as a result of which Mumbai is expanding in the Western Coast of the main land. Cost of land in the main city is soaring rapidly and municipal taxes are very high.
That is why a number of industrialists have started moving away from Mumbai and have installed new factories in neighbouring regions. The development of Ahmadabad-Surat region is very much linked with these phenomena.
The labour unrest, strikes, lock-outs, stiff competition from rayon and artificial fibers industry to cotton textile, lack of modernisation of mills, increasing environmental pollution and health hazards, and dangers of earthquakes are some of the other problems faced by the region. The industrial development in this region has almost reached its saturation stage in which not better prospects are foreseen in the future. Still the region will reign supreme for many more years to come.