The state government on Friday poured cold water on the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority’s (MMRDA) plan to work on only important transport infrastructure projects in the city and not take up projects such as the mangrove park at Gorai, the innovation park in Raigad or the funicular railway in Matheran.
At a review meeting that went on for five-and-a-half hours, chief secretary Ratnakar Gaikwad asked the MMRDA to ensure that it completes all projects cleared by the MMRDA’s executive committee.
“The decision to drop any project rests only with the executive committee and the authority head [chief minister]. There are no plans of dropping any projects,” Gaikwad said.
Gaikwad was the MMRDA chief before he was appointed as the chief secretary earlier this year.
During his tenure, Gaikwad decided to take up a slew of projects apart from those aimed at improving the city’s transport facilities. These include setting up the Rs 100-crore mangrove park, the Rs 10,000-crore innovation park, and getting into power generation.
However, Rahul Asthana, who took over from Gaikwad as the MMRDA commissioner, had decided to prioritise infrastructure projects and said the MMRDA would reconsider taking up the other projects.
Gaikwad’s decision to crack the whip highlights the growing rift between the state’s top bureaucrat and the MMRDA head on how an agency responsible for improving the city’s infrastructure should operate.
The MMRDA has faced a lot of flak in the past few years for getting into too many ventures and not completing infrastructure projects such as building roads and alternate transport systems like the metro and monorail on time.
Asthana was unavailable for comment.