In the third part of the series, we do a fact check for the urban promises made by the BJP Manifesto in 2014 Maharashtra elections. Maharashtra is a fairly urbanized state. The 2011 Census shows that almost half of the total population of Maharashtra stays in urban centers. Thus, solving issues of urban areas is a crucial task for any government to solve.
Promise– Hubs for economic and commercial activities, similar to Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC), will be developed in every municipal corporation in MMRDA jurisdiction, so that people can get employment close to their homes.
Expanding the business activity outside the Mumbai city is an important aim to ensure offices are setup in the outskirts of Mumbai. This will reduce travel time as most of the new residential spaces are in the municipal corporations surrounding Mumbai like Thane, Kalyan-Dombivali, Navi Mumbai, etc. Steps have been taken to ensure proper business hubs are setup in the surrounding region.
Navi Mumbai is set to be the next major business hub after the Bandra-Kurla Complex. A 120 hectare corporate hub is planned in Navi Mumbai by CIDCO and will be near the new Navi Mumbai International Airport.
Similar such Secondary Business Districts have been planned at multiple other places like Thane, Bhiwandi, Kalyan, etc.
Promise– An integrated approach will be adopted to improve the transportation system in MMR Region which will include a network of elevated railways and roads, water-ways, Metro and mono rails.
The biggest success of Fadnavis government is to fast track all the crucial transport related projects in Mumbai. It’s not that Fadnavis planned them. The concept and ideas had emulated since last seven decades in Maharashtra. The earlier governments couldn’t start/complete these projects.
Mumbai Metro– A feasibility study for Mumbai Metro was done in 1997. It took 2008 to start the construction of Metro Line 1 from Ghatkopar to Versova. It was marred with delays and was opened up in 2013. Thus, it took 16 years for one line to open up.
Fadnavis government ensured the metro construction is sped up. Expertise from Delhi Metro Rail Corporation and funding from Asian Development Bank is sought. The Metro Line 3 from Colaba to SEEPZ, Metro Line 2 and 7 from Dahisar would be completed by 2021.
The other lines are planned and would be executed simultaneously.
- Metro Line 4- Kasarvadavli to Wadala
- Metro Line 5- Thane to Kalyan
- Metro Line 6- Lokhandwala to Kanjurmarg
Trans-Harbour Link- It was proposed as back as 1963 to have a sea link between eastern suburb of Sewri across the Thane creek and connect it to Uran on Raigad coast. The project was somehow revived in 2005. Feasibility studies, multiple bids and complex tendering process made the project unviable as no company was ready to share the financial burden.
Fadnavis government revived it in 2015. They sought funding from Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA). It agreed to fund 80% of project. Central government stood guarantee for the loan. The pace picked up. Contractors were finalized. PM Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone in 2016. The work started in 2018.
Coastal Road– A coastal road to connect Nariman Point in south Mumbai to Kandivali in north was proposed in 1963. It took Maharashtra government 2011 to come up with a plan. But its own new Coastal Regulation Zone rules in 2011 made it impossible for the project to go ahead.
After coming to power, Fadnavis government revived the project in 2015. The approval of the Union Ministry of Environment was sought in 2016. The project was handed over to BMC in 2016. The construction began in 2018.
Navi Mumbai International Airport– Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport is Asia’s busiest airport. A study was done in 1997 that there is a need for an alternate airport. The proposal for an airport at Navi Mumbai was submitted in 2001, only to be revived in 2008 by Vilasrao Deshmukh. Multiple land acquisitions stalled it.
It was only in 2017 that CIDCO was given powers and the state transferred 250 hectares of land. The process has begun and it will take another three years to make the airport operational.
Promise– Regional development authorities will be established for Pune, Nashik, Aurangabad and Nagpur to ensure futuristic development of these cities.
Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority (PMRDA) was first envisioned in 1997 and a toothless body was set up in 1999. But it had no powers. Fadnavis government made it an official body with wide ranging powers and finances in 2015. It now is tasked with crucial projects like Pune Metro, Ring Road and mapping of illegal constructions in its jurisdiction.
Nashik Metropolitan Region Development Authority was set up in 2017. The project of Nashik Metro and planning of Nashik for next few decades is being taken up.
Aurangabad Metropolitan Region Development Authority was set up in 2018. The region covers the crucial automobile manufacturing zones of Aurangabad and the city area.
The Nagpur Metropolitan Region Development Authority existed earlier in the form of Nagpur Improvement Trust. The activities were coordinated through the body even before Fadnavis government came to power in 2014.
Promise– Side-walks will be broadened and made available for pedestrians. Escalators will be fitted to sky-walks.
Individual municipal corporations have done some work especially in Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai. But no considerable work is done in other big cities like Pune, Nashik, etc.
Promise– 10 smart cities will be developed in Maharashtra.
Under the ambitious Smart Cities Mission of the central government, 98 cities were selected all over India. Maharashtra bagged 10 cities in the list.
- Navi Mumbai
- Greater Mumbai
Smart City Centers have been setup in these cities. Pune got the distinction of issuing a Municipal Bond for raising funds for Smart Cities. It got a rating of AA+ in the Bombay Stock Exchange showing the confidence of investors.
Promise– Play grounds, parks and open spaces will be created through flexible FSI policy.
While FSI has been increased in Mumbai for residential and commercial spaces, there has been no provision for open spaces and play grounds. Nevertheless, BMC has taken the lead in having an Open Space Policy for proper management of open spaces.
Promise– Dharmashala (spiritual dwelling) and rest houses will be built on every state transport bus depot.
No specific details could be found on this declaration.
Promise– Monsoon shelter homes will be provided in the rainy season.
No specific declaration by the state government has been done. The lack of monsoon shelters has wreaked havoc in Mumbai as the poor were forced to find shelters below flyovers.
Promise– Structural audit of every building in the state will be encouraged.
The progress has been mixed. Some municipal corporations like BMC have ordered structural audits of old buildings, the other cities are in mere planning and announcement stages.
Overall, the progress in fast tracking projects in various cities is seen. The earlier governments were marred by red tapism and lethargy. Fadnavis government has infused fresh vigour in the infra projects in cities, especially big cities like Mumbai and Pune.