Nearly a decade after it was first proposed, Mumbai may finally get a dedicated fund for its infrastructure projects, but this is likely to come at the cost of taxpayers.
Following directives from the ministry of urban development, the state is seriously considering setting up an urban transport fund (UTF), and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) is expected to appoint a consultant for it soon. The fund is expected to support sustainable transport needs of the city and its hinterland in the long term.
This may pinch pockets of citizens of MMR, as it is likely to translate into development charges, levies or local taxes that can in turn be put aside for the fund. The Centre had empanelled seven consultants, following a competitive process to handhold cities to set up this fund. The MMRDA is currently in the process of selecting one of these consultancy firms. The consultant is expected give a technical and financial proposal to set up the fund, advise the agency on the sources for it, including development charges, local levies and vertical development rights. The firm will also have to prepare a legal framework to set up the corpus.
“Financing infrastructure projects in our cities is a big challenge. Currently, the MMR needs around Rs4 lakh crore for it. While there are several funding agencies, many of these put in several conditions that are not always easy to meet. Public-Private-Partnership (P-P-P) projects have also not met great success. This government feels it is better to have a dedicated fund to finance public infrastructure,” said a senior bureaucrat.
Along with the UTF, the state government is also looking at rejuvenating the dormant Urban Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA) by giving it a statutory push.
“Both UTF and UMTA, as suggested by the urban development ministry, ties up with the plan of having a seamless mobility in the metropolitan region. For UMTA to be effective, we will have to bring in a legislation that has been pending,” said chief secretary Swadheen Kshatriya.
UPS Madan, metropolitan commissioner of MMRDA, admitted the agency was in the process of setting up both the UMTA and UTF and a consultant would be appointed for the latter.