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State projects at Mumbai’s cost

Money being raised in Mumbai is now likely to fund the state’s irrigation projects. It’s a loss of Rs 700 crore. That’s a 12-km monorail corridor and 15 skywalks, reports Ketaki Ghoge.
By Ketaki Ghoge | Hindustan Times, Mumbai
UPDATED ON JUL 14, 2008 01:44 AM IST

India’s commercial capital – and Maharashtra’s cash cow — is keeling over from the burden of its flagging infrastructure, but that does not seem to concern the state government too much.

Money being raised in Mumbai is now likely to fund the state’s irrigation projects.

A notification issued by the state’s urban development department (UDD) recently stated that the moolah to be generated through more Floor Space Index (FSI) granted to the suburbs will be divided between the city’s civic corporation and the state exchequer in a 50:50 ratio. FSI determines how high a construction can rise — the higher the FSI, the taller the building.

In this year’s budget, state Finance Minister Jayant Patil had announced a hike in the burbs’ FSI, from 1 to 1.33 — a move that has been challened in court. The plan is to charge a premium for the extra 0.33 FSI, which is expected to generate Rs 1,400 crore. Patil had said this revenue would be used to fund Mumbai’s infrastructure needs.

But now it looks like Mumbai will not get at least half the money generated by burdening its already strained infrastructure.

It’s a loss of Rs 700 crore. That’s a 12-km monorail corridor and 15 skywalks.

It can be worse. Mumbai’s share may become 25 per cent. “I don’t know if an order has been issued. But, yes, there was discussion about a 75:25 revenue-sharing plan between the state and BMC instead of 50:50,” said Patil, adding that the money will be used for irrigation and housing projects in the state.

Mumbaiites are obviously unhappy. “It should be pooled back to improve amenities in the city. This is a telling example of why Mumbai needs to separate development fund,” said Narinder Nair, vice-chairman of the Citizen Action Group (CAG), which is assisting the state in the Mumbai makeover.

The CAG has been calling for a Mumbai Development Fund (MDF) so that the city’s money is used to improve its infrastructure. The proposal has been pending for six months. CAG plans to call on CM Vilasrao Deshmukh next week to discuss the issue.

According to Sanjay Ubale, secretary, special projects, the government is committed to creating MDF. “Part of this money would go into the city’s infrastructure,” he said.

The state needs at least Rs 41,000 crore to complete its 1,246 irrigation projects, most of which were announced to keep constituencies happy. “Considering the state’s track record, money spent on irrigation projects is a waste,” said a bureaucrat.

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