The state government on Wednesday gave its nod to bring Vasai, Panvel, Alibaug, Khalapur, Pen and Palghar talukas under the Maharashtra Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA).
The administrative model was adopted by the state government to ensure effective coordination and execution of policies in the local bodies that constitute the extended neighbourhood of Mumbai.
The decision is being perceived as politically significant ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha and Assembly elections. Of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra, Mumbai, Thane, Konkan and Raigad together constitute 12 seats. Whereas, of the total 288 Assembly seats, the regions have 75 seats.
The Shiv Sena that is an alliance partner of the BJP in the Cabinet did not object to the decision driven by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who heads the MMRDA. Fadnavis also heads the urban development department and he cited administrative reasons for amalgamation of the satellite towns with the MMRDA.
An urban development department official said: “The cluster development approach under MMRDA, which is led by the CM, will help in the holistic development and planning at the satellite towns.” Secondly, it is believed that the step will help check political interference with regards to decision-making and execution of infrastructure and other projects.
The decision to bring Vasai, Alibaug, Khalapur, Panvel and Palghar under the MMRDA will increase its area by 2,000 sqkm. In 1974, the MMRDA was set up by the state government as an apex body for planning and coordination of development work in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). In 1967, the geographical area of MMR was 3,966 sqkm. It subsequently increased to 4,355 sqkm.
A Cabinet note states that there was a long-pending demand to include the new townships, along with 27 villages, in the MMRDA. Among the mega projects that would be handled by the MMRDA after the cabinet decision are, the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train, Mumbai-Nagpur Samruddhi Mahamarg, Mumbai-Suraj Superfast Mahamarg, Navi Mumbai International Airport, Palghar District Industrial Centre, Mumbai Porbander Project, Vivar Alibaug Multinodal Corridor and metro projects.