The Opposition on Thursday turned the heat up on the state-run Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), alleging cost escalations to the tune of Rs. 3,317 crore in its various projects, to the benefit of contractors. It also demanded a white paper from the state agency.
Raising the issue in the house, Vinod Tawde, Opposition leader of the legislative council, said, “Projects do not take off on time and then costs spiral. Cost escalations amount to Rs. 3,317 crore and are done to benefit contractors. We need a white paper on why the projects did not take off and why costs escalated.”
Tawde alleged the MMRDA was losing Rs. 280 crore annually because of failure to recover delay charges from developers. He suggested a single-window clearance system for projects. He said the MMRDA’s financial condition was deteriorating.
Member of the Legislative Council from the Shiv Sena, Deepar Sawant, also raised concern about delayed infrastructure projects. “Be it the Metro or Monorail or the Freeway, all are behind schedule,” he said.
Ruling out a white paper, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, who heads the MMRDA, said, “From January 2013 till now, projects worth Rs5,000 cr implemented by the MMRDA have been inaugurated and projects worth Rs. 2,000 crore are in the pipeline. But I agree we need to devise a new [revenue] model to make MMRDA self-sufficient. This can be done by introducing a betterment charge or an improvement cess that people could pay,” he said.
Tawde, however, said the Opposition would not agree to a plan which requires citizens to pay more for infrastructure.
Chavan said the state would stress on ‘development with a human face.’ He announced that the agency plans to devise an insurance scheme for people who die in dilapidated building collapses. “Every family that has lost a member will gets Rs5 lakh,” Chavan announced in the council.