Maha budget: Boost to road, rail, Metro and air infra
In its second budget, the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) made a slew of announcements to boost infrastructure in the state.
The most significant announcement was the state’s plan to build a Pune-Nashik semi high-speed rail corridor that will connect the cities of Pune, Ahmednagar and Nashik. “The speed of this train will be 200 km/hour. The expected cost of the project is ₹16,039 crore,” deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar said, while stating the project has been approved by the cabinet on Monday.
Pawar made an allocation of ₹7,000 crore for the Nanded-Jalna Expressway connector which will connect Nanded city with the 701-km Mumbai-Nagpur Samruddhi Mahamarg (Expressway). Pawar said that 44% of the works along the expressway have been completed and a 500-km stretch between Nagpur and Shirdi will be opened for traffic from May 1. He said the new connector will provide the Nanded, Hingoli, Parbhani, and Jalna districts of Marathwada.
Apart from this, the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) will also take up the works of a coastal highway between Rewas in Raigad and Reddy in Sindhudurg as an alternative to the Mumbai-Goa highway. The road connecting three districts of Konkan is expected to boost growth in this region with focus on tourism and horticulture.
The government has proposed an outlay of Rs.12,950 crore for road development in the state.
Pawar also said that land acquisition for the ₹26,000 crore Pune ring road will be undertaken this year. “A large number of passengers and goods are transported from other parts of the state as well as from Konkan, Marathwada, and North Maharashtra via Pune. This puts a huge strain on the traffic in Pune city. To avoid this, it is felt necessary to undertake the construction of a ring road around Pune in order to save fuel and time.”
The MVA is also looking at starting work on a new international airport in Pune. Pawar said the technical and financial feasibility of the project is being checked. The government is also looking at setting up a greenfield airport in Solapur and services from the Chipi airport in Sindhudurg will also start soon, Pawar said. In its plans to boost cruise tourism in the state, the government is also planning to build a cruise terminal at Bhagwati port in Ratnagiri.
In terms of Metro projects, the state announced a broad gauge Metro connecting Nagpur city to Wardha, Ramtek, Bhandara, and Narkhed, ₹2,100 crore Metro Neo lite in Nashik, and the recently-approved ₹7,165 crore Metro lite system in Thane.
Experts said any sort of investment in infrastructure, at a time when cities are growing rapidly, would be a force multiplier. Pankaj Joshi, principal director, Urban Centre, Mumbai, said, “We are in a phase where any sort of impetus to urban infrastructure is a welcome step. Our cities are growing by the day and we need to invest in building that sort of infrastructure.”