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Promised the moon, city given a pittance for take-off

The only major physical infrastructure project was the Colaba-Bandra-Seepz underground Metro.

Written by MANASI PHADKE | Mumbai | Published: March 19, 2015 1:34:39 am
The NCP has played the role of catalyst to get rid of Congress chairman which suited the BJP. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis

Despite expectations of major allocations for Mumbai in the new government’s budget for 2015-16, especially after the Union budget skipped the country’s financial capital, the four-month old government’s maiden budget had few announcements for Mumbai.

The only major physical infrastructure project that featured in the state budget for 2015-16 was the 32.5-km Colaba-Bandra-Seepz underground Metro for which it has allocated Rs 109.6 crore.

Besides, the budget has allocated Rs 100 crore for the Chhatrapati Shivaji memorial in the Arabian Sea, besides mentioning a memorial for Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar at Indu Mills and another for Shiv Sena supremo late Bal Thackeray.

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There was no mention of other showpiece projects such as the coastal freeway, the Sewri-Nhava Sheva Trans Harbour Link, passenger water transport, growth centres in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. There were no new projects either.

Pankaj Joshi, executive director at the Urban Design Research Institute, said, “The city really has nothing in this budget. The four major needs of the city — affordable housing, transportation, health and education — find no mention in this budget.

The Union budget did not have much for Mumbai, as the Union government thinks the state will provide for cities. I don’t know who the state is looking towards to provide for its cities. Leaving all this for municipal corporations to provide is not wise.”

Last month, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had, in a conference titled ‘Mumbai Next’, promised a major thrust on the development of Mumbai and the surrounding metropolitan region to position it as a global financial centre and a world-class city.

Corporate honchos such as Mukesh Ambani, Anil Ambani, Cyrus Mistry, actor Amitabh Bachchan, Union minister Venkaiah Naidu, Union Minister of State Finance Jayant Sinha, bankers, policymakers and bureaucrats attended the high-profile conference.

With Sinha having shown strong support for pitching Mumbai as an international finance centre, all eyes were on the Union budget and later the state budget for any announcements indicating at the city’s transformation.

Besides the memorials, the budget has also allocated Rs 5 crore for monuments for martyrs of Indian Defence Forces honoured with Parmaveer Chakra.

Among other announcements for Mumbai, the budget has allocated funds for digitization of the Asiatic Library’s records, renovation of the state transport corporation’s bus depot in the city and developing the Sanjay Gandhi National Park into an integrated wildlife zone.

Modernization of the JJ School of Arts, creating facilities such as washrooms, drinking water and refreshment places for domestic and foreign tourists, and development of the Haji Ali dargah also featured in the budget.

Hours after state’s Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar presented the budget, legislators from other parties criticised the budget for giving too little for the city.

Jitendra Awhad, NCP legislator, tweeted, “Mumbai neglected in Maharashtra budget. Is Mumbai not a part of Maharashtra? Whose budget is this?”

Members of the Shiv Sena, which is rooted in Mumbai, also spoke out against its own government for ignoring the major projects planned for Mumbai in the budget.

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