Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Tuesday reiterated the resolve to have Fatak Mukta Gujarat (Gujarat, Free of Railway Crossings) while disbursing cheques of Rs 2,000 crore as financial assistance to various municipal corporations, urban development authorities and municipalities at a function in Gandhinagar.
The function was organised under the aegis of Gujarat Municipal Finance Board and was attended by Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel, Minister of State for Urban Housing Yogesh Patel and Minister of State for Women & Child Development Vibhavari Dave along with top officials of the Urban Development department.
“In cities (and towns), the crossings close three to four times a day, causing traffic. In the budget this year, it is our resolve — Fatak Mukta Gujarat. We do not want (railway) crossings anymore and will have overbridges and underbridges. We can’t afford traffic caused by railway crossings,” said Rupani while asking the urban local bodies (ULBs) to submit their estimates soon to build railway overbridges or underbridges so that procedure can be completed with the Indian Railways.
Focus on core vote bank of urban areas
The BJP government in Gujarat is focusing a lot on urban areas since they are considered as the party’s core vote bank. The grants disbursed Tuesday were all discretionary grants and not mandatory ones. Figures that reflect the BJP government’s focus on urban areas were declared by Dhansukh Bhanderi, Chairman of Gujarat Municipal Finance Board, who said that in the past five years, the total budget allocated for Urban Development in Gujarat was around Rs 59,000 crore. There are eight municipal corporations and 162 municipalities in Gujarat. All the municipal corporations are ruled by BJP whereas, more than 95% municipalities are governed by the BJP. The focus on ULBs could also be a reason to win the elections to six of the eight municipal corporations and around 75 municipalities scheduled in 2020.
He added that the Gujarat government will pursue the Railways to finish the formalities and start work on building these railway overbridges and underbridges. The cost of building railway overbridges is generally shared equally between the state government and the Railways.
According to officials of Roads & Buildings Department, the state government is planning to build overbridges or underbridges at around 115 railway crossings in the state at an estimated cost of above Rs 3,400 crore. The government is aiming to finish it in the next 3-4 years.
Rupani also asked the ULBs to prioritise various goals like drinking water for all and underground network along with sewerage treatment plants (STPs) so that maximum water can be reused under the government’s water reuse policy.
Rupani said that a lot of work related to urban development has been done and now it was time for the ULBs to give priority to goals like daily drinking water for all and underground drainage network with STP facility.
The CM also said that all the roads damaged by rain in the state will be repaired by Diwali.
The CM admitted that there are many municipalities that are providing water once in two, three, four or five days and added that it cannot be continued. “Plan for daily drinking water. And whatever is the cost, the government is ready to provide it,” said Rupani, adding that there is no dearth of funds for developmental work.