Citizens’ complaints of not getting enough money for the city’s development may soon come unstuck.
The Maharashtra government is setting up a dedicated fund for building infrastructure in Mumbai and its neighboring areas called the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR).
The fund, called the MMR Fund, will be set up with the money collected through various sources. The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) will control it.
The MMRDA will, thus, become a single-point authority for financing infrastructure projects in the MMR.
The Urban Development department will issue a government resolution soon to give legal status to the fund.
“A dedicated fund for the region will ensure a fixed corpus for development of the region. It will also mean that there wont be any duplication of work between various agencies for infrastructure projects,” a senior government official said requesting anonymity.
The decision to set up the fund was taken at Monday’s ‘war room’ meeting of Chief Minister, Ashok Chavan, with infrastructure agencies like the MMRDA, the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), City and Industrial Development Corporation and Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority.
Chavan has set up a ‘war room’ mechanism for the time-bound completion of infrastructure projects.
The fund will get money from a percentage of stamp duty, registration charges and premiums on extra floor space index in the MMR.
The government is also planning to ask all infrastructure agencies working in the area to set aside a certain amount for the corpus.
This is not the first time that a call for having a dedicated fund for Mumbai’s projects has been floated. In 2007, secretary special projects had even drafted a legislation to create a Mumbai Development Fund at the state level, but the finance department nixed it.
The fund was supposed to get a portion of proceeds from the sale of government land, through a surcharge on stamp duty and tolls.
Mumbai provides vast sums of money to the state exchequer with nearly 40-50 per cent of the country’s income tax returns emanating from the city.
The decision will also give the MMRDA more powers. The MMRDA will maintain and disburse the fund. All agencies will have to approach the MMRDA for getting government funds for their projects. Officials said a single-point authority will ensure better coordination. Agencies like the BMC and the MMRDA spend close to Rs 9,500 crore every year on the city and its adjoining areas.
Chavan also reviewed the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link and the Water Transport Project in Monday’s meeting.