Fadnavis’ infra push should lead to growth in MMR
The need to rebuild Mumbai’s crumbling infrastructure was being talked about for years after the city and its surrounding areas saw a spurt in growth post-liberalisation of the economy.cities Updated: Feb 20, 2018 00:36 IST
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi laying the foundation stone for Navi Mumbai international airport on Sunday, it is now hoped that the work on long-awaited second airport of Mumbai will start soon. It is common knowledge that Mumbai’s existing airport is under tremendous pressure due to growing traffic of air travellers and the city desperately needs the second airport. Experts in aviation experts have been pointing out that the airport should have been operational by now.
At Sunday’s function, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said he was confident that by the end of 2019, the first phase of the airport would be ready and the first flight would take off from Navi Mumbai. Considering the complex nature of the project and the obstacles it faced, it may not be possible to meet the December 2019 deadline, but Fadnavis’ statement indicates he is keen to get it started at the earliest.
In fact, the stress he gave on getting the infrastructure built is something that will earn Fadnavis some brownie points even as it continues to face criticism over handling of the farm distress.
The need to rebuild Mumbai’s crumbling infrastructure was being talked about for years after the city and its surrounding areas saw a spurt in growth post-liberalisation of the economy. The plan for the second airport was being made since the early nineties but the successive governments could not zero in on the site for the project often due to the reluctance of the local people to part with their land. Earlier, it was proposed at Rewas-Mandwa in Raigad district. Over the period, the government finalised the spot near Panvel. However, it took almost a decade to finally get the required approvals and convince the villagers in the area to give their land. It is understandable that the procedure was tedious and time-consuming. However, the policy paralysis during the UPA 2 tenure and helplessness of the Maharashtra government in getting the Centre to issue approvals faster delayed the project.
In fact, that was the story with several infrastructure projects aimed at transforming Mumbai. Either the approvals were delayed or the Centre was not willing to give funds for the projects. The metro network in Mumbai was a classic example. While the UPA government built metro routes in Delhi, the Congress-NCP government in Maharashtra was asked to borrow funds from the market for the metro in Mumbai or try the public-private sector joint venture route. Had the Centre realised the urgency to build a mass transport system parallel to Mumbai suburban railway at least a decade ago, the situation in Mumbai would have been slightly better by now. Unfortunately, barring a couple of them, most top leaders of the Congress and the NCP, did not show any urgency to rebuild the infrastructure of Mumbai or developing the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. In fact, the bickering between the Congress and the NCP delayed projects. On this front, the BJP has advantage — it is not entirely relying on its alliance partner to stay in power and hence, the tussle between two ruling parties doesn’t affect the projects taken up by the government.
This doesn’t mean everything is hunky dory in the NDA rule. Several Mantralaya officers are pointing out how the Centre is not responding well to their plan to develop an international financial services centre. The Mumbai Port Trust’s plan to develop eastern waterfront with a Marine Drive-like promenade, a new business hub and a marina among others is also going at a snail’s pace.
Still, the difference is visible.
One hopes that the infra projects would lead to growth. Fadnavis should also go ahead with his plan to create growth centres around Mumbai. That is something which will be needed in the MMR in the long run.
First Published: Feb 20, 2018 00:36 IST