Maharashtra meets planning advisor on mega projects


By Sandeep Ashar

MUMBAI: After requesting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to consider giving 90% of the funds for five major infrastructure projects, the state government on Monday held a meeting with Gajendra Haldia, an advisor to the Planning Commission of India, to discuss the need for central funding for two of the projects, the Rs 14,000-crore Navi Mumbai international airport and the Rs 16,000-crore Colaba-Bandra underground Metro.

With BMC elections around the corner, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan is making every attempt possible to get central funding for projects that can help transform Mumbai into a world-class city. Two other Mumbai region projects discussed with the PM were the Rs 10,000-crore Nhava-Sewri trans-harbour link and Rs 10,000-crore Alibaug-Virar multi-modal corridor. The state asked the PM to treat these projects as being of “national importance”. Assuring the state of central support, Singh had asked Chavan to submit a proposal to the Planning Commission.

After the meeting with Haldia at the chief minister’s office in Mantralaya, the Chavan government began making a presentation to make a strong pitch before the Planning Commission and National Development Council. These meeting are scheduled to be held in Delhi on October 15 and October 16.

The projects, it was said, would be taken up by the state itself, with contractors appointed for the work. There were also discussions on other financial models, sources said. Haldia is an expert on Public Private Partnership (PPP). The state feels it would be difficult to implement these projects under PPP. Sources said Haldia highlighted some constraints of the central-funding model. For PPP models, the state asked the government to consider relaxing the restriction of 40% central assistance under Viability Gap Funding (VGF).

Meanwhile, Haldia requested the state to consider permitting commercial exploitation of up to 4 FSI for the proposed elevated rail corridor between Churchgate and Virar. The FSI would be used for commercial structures along the route or in the vicinity. Having already planned a Colaba-Bandra underground metro and a Bandra-Charkop elevated metro, the state is not keen on incurring expenditure for the elevated rail corridor. The state and Centre are to share the expenditure for the project.