Will Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reaffirm the Centre's commitment to prop up the city's multi-billion dollar makeover plan, on Saturday?
All eyes are on the PM, with hopes that Mumbai's dream to become a world-class city by improving its basic infrastructure is not ignored this time.
It's not just the state government that wishes so, but also the ordinary resident, who has been on the rollercoaster Mumbai makeover ride for the last eight years, grudging that his daily commute continues to be tougher than any other metro in the country.
The project, last pegged at Rs2.5 lakh crore, has resulted in nothing substantial, barring a few flyovers and a few more train services, since it was mooted in 2004. Major infrastructure projects like Metro, water transport, sea links, new airport, etc. which won't just make life easier for Mumbaiites, but also rekindle the city's growth story, have remained on drawing boards or have been stuck during the implementation phase.
With 2014 polls another 18 months away, this is a matter of concern for the ruling parties. "The state officials made a detailed presentation to the PMO [Prime Minister's Office] on Tuesday to fast-track many of Mumbai's projects. We are hopeful of a positive response,'' said chief minister Prithviraj Chavan while on his way to receive the PM, who arrived on a two-day visit on Friday afternoon.
Chavan was accompanied by a state Congress party delegation led by president Manikrao Thakre, which sought the PM's aid for the Mumbai's makeover, along with a drought package. "If the party wants to do well in the 2014 polls in Maharashtra, it can't afford to ignore the capital and its metropolitan region. In the last five years, for several reasons, including the Adarsh scam, the city has not been the flavor of the country, and it's time that its development gets a boost,'' said political scientist B Venkatesh Kumar.
Chavan had a meeting with Singh on Friday night, and an announcement is likely on Saturday, which could contain something for Mumbai. Among other things, Chavan has been insisting that some of the big-ticket projects get a national status tag to help them get more than 50% funding from the Centre, and speedier clearances.
The city's prominent corporate leaders have also already petitioned Singh to push for the much-talked of international finance centre status for Mumbai.