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Mah plans US$ 16 bn push for infra projects stuck in red tape

  • 15th Jul 2015
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Mah plans US$ 16 bn push for infra projects stuck in red tape

Long delayed infra projects across Mumbai may still see the light of day, with the state government now making their revival a top priority on the insistence of the central government.

Seeking to accelerate economic growth, the Maharashtra government has announced plans to prioritise the revival of infrastructure development projects that have been hanging fire for a variety of reasons ranging from a sluggish bureaucracy, legal hurdles or simply a lack of interest from the private sector.

As a part of its plans, the state plans to invest almost US$16-bn spread over the next five to six years to revamp key infra projects and revive delayed projects that are vital to the city's economic progress.

A long list that includes among others the proposed INR 18,000-cr international airport project at Panvel, the INR 11,000-cr Mumbai Trans Harbor Link and the more recently announced INR 12,000-cr, 35.6 km-long,  coastal road project between Nariman Point and Kandivali that will help decongest the city's choked roads and also create approx 91 hectares of green space.

Expressing the view that the delays should not have happened, the state chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said recently that he was optimistic that inspite of the delays, the government's thrust on infrastructure development would help it catch up.

The CM also acknowledged that the recent revival of infra projects in the state were partly due to the intervention of the central government that was keen on the completion of projects like the international airport at Navi Mumbai, which is expected to witness its first flight sometime in 2019.

He further revealed that his government had managed to secure clearances for eight infra projects over the past four months and assured that a bidder would be selected for the airport project by the end of the summer.

Initially proposed in 1995-99, when the BJP-Shiv Sena, was in power, the airport project was stalled due to delays in environment and forest clearances and also due to opposition from villagers seeking higher compensation to part with their land. Most issues have now been resolved. If the project does takes off now, the first phase will be operational by 2019.

The airport project forms a crucial part of the government's efforts to push the city's development away from the sea, thereby alleviating a metropolitan area that houses more than 20 mn people suffering the inadequacies of a public infrastructure that has been pushed to the brink of collapse.

The ambitious project which also includes a road bridge and a new city on a 600 sq km plot around the proposed airport has already attracted a lot of flak from the media and other quarters for its long delays which have been mostly the result of poor planning on the part of the project authorities.

Earlier this year, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi had directed secretaries of all key infrastructure ministries to keenly follow both public sector and PPP projects to ensure there is no delay since "most of the bottlenecks as far as clearances have been resolved."

The minutes of the PM's last review meeting of infrastructure ministries held in December last year had recorded that there should be "no reason for slow progress in future". During the meeting, Modi had directed the Niti Aayog (formerly known as the Planning Commission) to ask for a "detailed work chart" and track progress, identify bottlenecks and shortcomings within the ministries.

On his part, the state's new CM Fadnavis has spared no effort to attract the much needed funds and technical know-how to complete such projects. A major part of his efforts on this front in recent months have included a high-profile concerted campaign to attract big investors like car major Mercedes Benz to Foxconn, which manufactures the popular Apple iPhone, to invest in the state.

It's a well-known fact that Mumbai is home to some of the biggest and most delayed infrastructure development projects in the country today. With almost half its population under the age of 25, the thrust on their revival is also expected to generate the much-needed employment opportunities for its youth, besides attracting more investments into the state.


Rajesh Kulkarni is a professional content writer and he writes on various contemporary topics.... read more


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