The single enduring image of The Great Mumbai Makeover is of roads dug up all year round to make way for one utility after another.
This lack of coordination between different agencies operating in the city is what also leads to regular time and cost overruns on practically every infrastructure project in the city — most visibly these days, the Mumbai Metro, and the Monorail project.
Chief Minister Ashok Chavan has issued an order to ensure that approvals from agencies like BEST, MTNL, traffic police and Mahanagar Gas are given in 15 days.
Chavan was responding to Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) Commissioner Ratnakar Gaikwad’s request for an empowered committee to fast track projects. “We have issued a Government Resolution (GR) to this effect. The committee will meet every 15 days and grant necessary approvals,” said T.C. Benjamin, principal secretary, Urban Development department.
The committee includes 15 members from agencies like Tata Power, Reliance Energy, BEST, BMC and Mahanagar Gas.
The GR says: The committee will consider all necessary approvals for projects, including shifting of water pipelines, electric poles, phone cables and gas pipelines. It will grant permission for road digging, setting up diversion barricades, closing roads etc.
The committee will also ensure that the implementing agency gets details like ownership and land records to speed up eligibility identification of project-affected persons.
The committee will seek No Objection Certificates for realignment of utilities from agencies like the BMC or BEST, which will have to grant them within 15 days, with or without conditions.
If any decision is postponed because of the complexity of issues, it will have to be considered within the next seven days. No approval can be kept pending for more than 21 days.
Officials said this decision was taken largely to facilitate Mumbai Metro’s corridors and the monorail routes.