In a major pre-election exercise, the Maharashtra government on Wednesday announced a Rs 5,000 crore (Rs 50 billion) package to develop and modernise the backward Konkan region.
The package includes an ambitious plan to make the 471-km Mumbai-Goa highway into a modern four-lane carriageway and measures to complete the state's coastal highway, according to the official announcement.
Also included in the package are scores of works to modernise or construct roads, connecting roads to link big and small towns, and big and small bridges over rivers and the creeks dotting the coastline. The projects are spread over the next one to three years.
The Konkan development package is considered politically crucial since the region is the traditional stronghold of the state's main opposition party, the Shiv Sena.
The announcement came at the end of the first meeting of the state cabinet held in the picturesque coastal region of the state, facing the Arabian Sea.
Apart from the infrastructure projects, the package includes allocation for strengthening or constructing new dams and reservoirs to boost the irrigation facilities in the region.
By this, an area of over 21,000 hectares in Sindhudurg, Ratnagiri, Raigad and Thane districts will be provided with irrigation facilities over the next three years.
With a view to benefit from the natural beauty of the region's hills on one side and the Arabian Sea on the other, the state has allocated Rs 67 crore to construct various tourist facilities.
These include a wax museum on the lines of the Madame Tussauds wax museum at London, water parks, marine complexes, coastal ropeways and golf-courses, show parks and amphibian vehicles along the region.
Since there is no airport in the region, the state plans to construct aviation facilities in Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts with public-private participation.
It also plans to develop scores of small fishing ports and jetties to augment the waterways in the area, in addition to enhancing educational, sports, cultural and other facilities.
Besides several important state leaders, many stalwarts like Babasaheb Ambedkar and late central minister Madhu Dandavate hailed from Konkan.
The region is also famous for producing several varieties of luscious mangoes including the most sought after Alphonso mango, cashewnuts, coconuts among other seasonal and agro-products. Recently rubber cultivation was started here and is picking up.