While making allocations for transport infrastructure, the BJP-led Maharashtra government in its budget for 2017-18 has proposed to set up a Maharashtra School of Drama in Goregaon’s Film City, and upgrade Mumbai University’s economics department to a full-fledged institution.
State finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar announced the state government’s intention to support Mumbai University’s effort to scale up its economics department into a ‘Mumbai School of Economics and Public Policy’ as the university celebrates its 160th year of existence.
“The economics department of Mumbai University is one of the oldest in India…a sum of Rs25 crore will be provided to Mumbai University in the next five years for this educational initiative,” Mungantiwar said, while presenting the state budget for 2017-18.
The state government has also proposed examining the feasibility of setting up a ‘Maharashtra School of Drama’ in Goregaon’s Film City on the lines of the National School of Drama.
Besides, the state government’s plans for Mumbai in its budget for the next fiscal include the extension of Mumbai’s surveillance camera network to its satellite cities of Kalyan and Dombivli, and installing forensic labs in Thane other than Ratnagiri, Solapur, Dhule and Chandrapur.
To boost Mumbai’s transport infrastructure, the state government has proposed to set aside Rs710 crore for the underground Colaba-Bandra-Seepz Metro, and elevated Dahisar-DN Nagar and Dahisar East-Andheri East Metro lines for the upcoming fiscal. This outlay is also expected to cater to the Nagpur Metro, the civil work for which is underway, and Pune Metro, which recently got cabinet approval. The three Metro projects in Mumbai will also be allocated funds from the budget of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), the nodal agency for the projects.
Besides, finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar also promised to expedite a few other showpiece projects in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, some of them stalled and delayed for years, though there was no special allocation for these. These were the Sewri-Nahva Sheva Mumbai Trans Harbour Link, the Navi Mumbai International Airport, the Navi Mumbai Metro Project and the proposed coastal freeway from South Mumbai to the western suburbs.
AV Shenoy, city-based transport expert, said, “I welcome the state government’s move of making substantial allocations to the three major projects already under construction. It is better to focus financial resources on what is already taken up to speed up the implementation rather than simply making new project announcements for a political statement.”
Shenoy, however, said the state government should also focus on low-hanging fruits to ease traffic congestion in Mumbai by pumping in funds in the financially-stressed Brihanmumbai Electric Supply & Transport (BEST) undertaking, dedicated bus lanes on highways and road projects.
After transport infrastructure projects, the largest allocation for the Mumbai Metropolitan Region has been for memorials. The state has proposed to spend Rs200 crore on three memorials – the Shivaji memorial in the Arabian Sea, a Dr BR Ambedkar memorial at Dadar’s India United Mills No. 5 popularly known as Indu Mills, and a memorial for Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray at the mayor’s Bungalow in Dadar.
“Further funds as required as proposed to be made available for this purpose,” Mungantiwar said in his budget speech.