Cash-starved state wants WB to fund Modi’s pet initiatives

A breakthrough is expected on Friday, with the CM scheduled to hold talks with the country head of the World Bank.

Written by Sandeep A Ashar | Mumbai | Published: February 6, 2015 2:39 am

At a time when the state’s debt is mounting, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has decided to tap external funding sources for implementing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet projects.

Official sources said the Maharashtra government’s talks with the World Bank for support to implement Modi’s Smart Cities, Swachh Bharat and Housing for All initiatives in the state were in an advanced stage. A breakthrough is expected on Friday, with the CM scheduled to hold talks with Onno Rühl, the country head of the World Bank. A preparatory meeting was organised on Thursday.

Announcing these initiatives as part of its Acche Din vision, the Modi government has offered to provide viability gap funding, a one-time grant, to states for implementing most of these initiatives. It has proposed that the states share the rest of the capital expenditure and recurring costs for these projects with the beneficiaries and urban local bodies. A tight fiscal position has already forced Maharashtra to impose a cut in spends. Official sources said it would be difficult to push these initiatives without external support.

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The WB’s support won’t be restricted to funding assistance alone. According to information, the multilateral agency is also willing to offer technical support and capacity building services for urban infrastructure and affordable housing, clean cities initiative (under Swachh Bharat), planning of smart cities, and spatial planning. Maharashtra’s outstanding debt has crossed the Rs 3-lakh-crore mark.

Meanwhile, official sources said the state government had approached the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation for a two-year extension to the centrally-funded Integrated Housing and Slum Development Programme. The state has so far constructed 1.35 crore houses under the initiative rolled out during the UPA regime. The initiative was expected to fold in March 2015, but sources said the centre might continue the scheme for another year to help states meet their targets. Maharashtra has plans to construct 1.81 crore houses across the state under the scheme.

2.5 FSI for old Navi Mumbai buildings

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has given his nod to increase the floor space index (FSI) for redevelopment of old CIDCO buildings in Navi Mumbai. The urban development department has issued a notification raising the FSI to 2.5. The proposal had been caught in a turf war between the Congress and the NCP during the previous regime. While former CM Prithviraj Chavan had approved the proposal in September, a notification was not issued with the model code of conduct for assembly polls kicking in.

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