Devendra Fadnavis: I want to create as many affordable houses as possible
As he enters his fifth year in office, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis lays out his roadmap for the city and the larger MMR region
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is proud to proclaim 'Mumbai Meri Jaan' when it comes to talking of his passion for developing the city, even while keeping its soul intact. As he steps into the fifth year in office, he tells mid-day that he had envisaged an infrastructural turnaround of the city immediately after assuming the top job.
He cites the ongoing project for constructing 200 km of Metro in the city and Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) as a milestone in his stint, saying a lot is in the pipeline to upgrade the living standards of the people. He also says the next thing on his mind for Mumbai and MMR is creating an affordable mass housing and expediting slum rehabilitation like the long-pending Dharavi project.
Here is what else the CM has to say on several issues.
Give us an update of the agenda for Mumbai that you had set in the first year.
I had envisioned that the city and MMR should have better transport facility. So I expedited the metro projects. The previous government had approved just 11.40km of Metro. But in the past four years, we not only approved 180km of the Metro in Mumbai and MMR, but also ensured that the work started. Now, my priority is to finish infra projects as quickly as possible without compromising on quality, and give Mumbai and MMR much-needed relief in commuting.
What else have you planned for infrastructure?
Conceptualised 30 years ago, the Navi Mumbai airport work started this year in our regime. We plan the first take-off from here next December. Some 85% land for the Mumbai-Nagpur Samriddhi Super Communications Highway has been acquired. Mumbai's CCTV web is being expanded. The Versova-Bandra sea link has been approved. The trans-harbour link will be a reality in the coming years. Mumbai-Pune expressway's capacity will be increased. The Sion-Panvel highway will have a new creek bridge.
Bhiwandi-Kalyan road and Ghodbunder Road will have an elevated stretch. These projects have got off-budget funding from national and international agencies. Water transport has also been taken up expeditiously. Mumbai-Mandwa Ro-Ro project will serve 14 lakh passengers and the 109 km distance by road will be reduced to 19km by waterway.
What is your next priority
Housing is a big problem in Mumbai. I want to create as many affordable houses as possible. They will come through the Pradhan Mantri Aavas Yojana (urban) and agencies like MHADA and CIDCO. We have set up a separate housing corporation for the PM scheme which will also build houses. Some 1.10 lakh houses (385 schemes) are being built under SRA, and the Dharavi redevelopment will house almost all eligible people in new buildings. This will be possible because a Mumbaikar, Railways Minister Piyush Goyal, has given us railway land for the rehabilitation. The BBD Chawls' 16,000 tenants will get bigger houses (500 sq ft from 160 sq ft) free of cost.
The Shiv Sena
The BJP is happy that the Sena has brought up the Ram Temple issue. Hindutva is a common agenda that binds us both. The Sena may talk against the government or the BJP, but this should not be taken seriously by you (media) or the BJP. I must say that we will have a formidable alliance in both Lok Sabha and Assembly polls. The Opposition (read the Congress) has also realised that they cannot afford to abuse the Hindus and mislead minorities. If Rahul Gandhi prays before God for an effective government then I'm sure that his prayer will be granted and the BJP will come back to power.
On Opposition and the BJP
The Opposition is misusing social media and public platforms to spread lies about the BJP and its government, but the people who have benefitted will favour us yet again. The Opposition is desperate and speaks lies because they don't need to give any explanation. I don't blame anyone (media or otherwise). The Opposition spits venom against us and yet we win because we impact the lives of the people in a positive manner. We again win (Lok Sabha and Assembly) elections.
Becoming the CM again
The political reality will decide the next CM. But I'm confident that I will continue to be there. The Sena may have its CM if they win more numbers than us.
Action against left liberals
We have proof stronger than we had in the case of Sai Baba (Maoist activist) against the activists who were arrested this year. The Supreme Court, too, has allowed the police to proceed by accepting the evidence. It is known that we don't like the leftist ideology and we don't approve of their propaganda. Their activities are planned to divide communities. We will prove that in court.
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