Metro mishap magnifies Cong, NCP sparring over MMRDA

Sep 06, 2012, 06:50 IST | Ravikiran Deshmukh

While Sharad Pawar's party was already critical of the agency's work, some Congress MLAs too have demanded issuance of a white paper following Tuesday's tragedy

The dust is yet to settle after a 50-feet long concrete slab collapsed at metro’s under- construction airport station around 4 pm on Tuesday, killing a labourer and injuring 16 others. But the political games have already begun. While alienated allies Congress and NCP were heretofore engaged in a bitter battle over Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), sources have told MiD DAY that now several MLAs from the grand old party are in favour of a white paper on the agency and called up home minister RR Patil in this regard.

With this added ammunition, NCP hopes to corner its senior partner over the present state of affairs in MMRDA, which is controlled by Congress. Sources say it’s time for payback as Congress has always sought to repress NCP-led Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation Ltd (MSRDC) over Mumbai Trans Harbour Link, proposed coastal road, Worli-Haji Ali Sea Link and a few other projects.

Target practice!
During the state cabinet meeting on Tuesday evening, RR Patil initiated a brief debate on MMRDA. He reportedly said the agency was run by babus and they do not deem themselves answerable to anyone. Except the CM, who is ex-officio chief of the body, no elected person was being taken into confidence over the working of the authority that is carrying out some of the most crucial infrastructure projects worth more than Rs 50,000 crore, the minister said.

While maintaining that no one knew what was going on in MMRDA, Patil added that recent incidents only reveal all is not well in the agency. In no time, Patil received support from party colleague and rural development minister Jayant Patil, who is also the guardian minister for the island city. The latter too expressed concern over accidents taking place at metro and monorail sites and demanded MMRDA makes public the steps being taken to ameliorate fear among Mumbaikars. Both ministers, who belong to Sangli district, said citizens were concerned about the quality of work in the projects undertaken by the agency.

The NCP outburst is mainly due to the present state of affairs in the ruling alliance. Both parties are trying to put each other on the mat. The MSRDC, headed by minister Jaydatta Kshirsagar is facing a severe financial crunch and is finding it difficult to convince the CM on various points. Many of its projects have suffered due to the uncooperative attitude of Congress-led departments and the state enterprise is finding it difficult to meet expenses, sources from NCP said.  

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