The state government has turned its focus on developing second- and third-tier cities and towns to take its industrial growth model beyond Mumbai-Pune.
To begin with, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis held a meeting with Union Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapati some days ago to seek support for at least 20 cities and towns for better air connectivity by 2017. In the first phase, the government has decided to start air operations in 10 cities and towns by 2016-end. These are Nanded, Shirdi, Amravati, Gondia, Nashik, Jalgaon, Kolhapur, Ratnagiri and Sindhurdurg.
At present, nearly 70 per cent of the state’s industrial revenue is generated from Mumbai, Pune, Nashik and Aurangabad districts.
Fadnavis and Gajapati worked out the air connectivity plan through the regional air connectivity scheme provided under the National Aviation Policy.
Under the state government’s Make In India and Make In Maharashtra schemes, there is a concerted drive since February this year to tap unexplored destinations to bring in greater investments, both domestic and foreign. For that, the government needs to build better infrastructure and bridge the distance between these cities and towns.
In terms of infrastructure development, the government is trying to maximise the central funds under AMRUT and Smart Cities projects to improve its infrastructure in second- and third-tier cities/towns. Notwithstanding the Centre’s support, Fadnavis has also given his nod for state-financed Smart Cities project. “Amravati is being developed as the textile hub of Maharashtra. Similarly, Solapur too has greater potential to expand its textile base,” said a source.
Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg are being promoted as tourist destinations. A special Konkan development plan has been approved along with Rs 350 crore financial allocation. The government has also sought the help of private players for projects like Seaworld.
Nashik and Jalgaon in north Maharashtra have emerged as industrial and agro-industrial sectors. Gondia and Nanded in Vidarbha and Marathwada are other second-rung towns being explored for development. With opening of mining areas in Gadchiroli and Chandrapur districts, there is renewed push for regional air connectivity.