The civic elections are almost here. For the BJP-led state government, this means it’s time to kick-start many of its pet big-ticket projects to show its development agenda for the city.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch some of these projects, including the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL) and the Navi Mumbai airport - sounding the bugle for the civic polls.
By showcasing these projects, the BJP hopes to not only steal a march over its ally Shiv Sena that has controlled the civic body for more than two decades, but also hit the previous Congress-NCP government, which initiated the MTHL and the Navi Mumbai International Airport (NMIA) projects but failed to get them off the drawing board.
The other projects the BJP wants to highlight are the two upcoming metro lines- DN Nagar to Mankhurd Metro 2A and the Wadala-Thane-Kasarvadavli Metro 4.
In the past two years, the government has managed to get speedy environment nods, which means all these projects could see construction work begin by year end.
The government has also reworked its entire metro plan, realising the potential to win over the mandate following the commissioning of the Versova-Ghatkopar corridor - the only project completed during the Congress-NCP rule.
“Except stage-2 forest clearance, we have received all approvals for the MTHL and the airport, and we are in position to appoint contractors by early next year. So we can do a Bhoomipujan (launch) of these projects by Prime Minister Modi,” said a government official.
There is, however, no official confirmation as yet on Modi’s visit next month, but officials are preparing to make arrangements for a soft launch.
While the BJP claims many of these will be completed by 2019, before the Assembly polls, officials hesitated to commit.
“Two of the metro lines, 2 A and 7, can be completed before or by the 2019 polls. But the same cannot be said of either the MTHL or the airport. Both projects are vast, there are several complexities associated with them,’’said a senior MMRDA official.
The state is looking to fast-track projects by splitting them into phases and handing over construction contracts simultaneously to different bidders.
Another important project on the state’s list is an elevated rail corridor between CST and Panvel, as rail transport is still the backbone of Mumbai’s transport system. But there is scepticism over it as it is still in the planning stage. The project, however, is expected to get the all-important central cabinet nod next month.