Deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar had only two big offerings for Mumbai in this year’s budget: the long-pending water transport project and a superspecialty government hospital.
Pawar, who is also the state finance minister, promised that the government would get the water transport project started by June 2014: the first would be on the western coast connecting Borivli to south Mumbai, at a cost of Rs750 crore. The state would provide Rs250 crore and the remainder would be invested by the MMRDA and Cidco.
A similar project to connect Nerul and south Mumbai with the eastern waterfront will be developed by the MSRDC through privatisation initiatives.
The project was proposed more than a decade ago. Experts feel Pawar’s announcement would give a new lease of life to water transport. “Now that they have a time-bound programme in place, we have to ensure it takes off,” said Narinder Nayar, chairman of Mumbai First, a collective formed to address city’s issues.
Pawar also announced that the government would build a superspecialty hospital at the JJ hospital campus. The project has been allocated Rs630 crore.
Also, a proposed new medical college, which will house 500 patients and have a capacity of a 100 medical students, has been allocated Rs33 crore.
“There was a need to increase the scope of JJ hospital. We are glad this project is being undertaken,” said south Mumbai corporator Amin Patel.
However, Sena corporator Ravindra Waikar was disappointed. “There is nothing new for Mumbai. The JJ hospital upgrade, and the water transport projects are long overdue,” he said.
Waikar said even the Rs15 crore mentioned in the budget for the Goregoan zoological park was mentioned in every budget.
The government is also considering the construction of a ‘bhasha bhavan’ to give a push to Marathi.