Even at the verge of being tagged as a Bhakt, I write today that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not just be inaugurating the infrastructure projects in the city of Mumbai, but he will be inaugurating the hopes of crores of Mumbaikars.
Mumbaikars is a term used to define someone who stays in Mumbai and also around the city in different districts, but visits the city daily for work.
For the last five years there's one thing that almost every one residing in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) has been hearing of, and that is the Metro Project.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Mumbai today (19 January) and inaugurate, as well as, lay the foundation stone of projects worth nearly Rs 38,800 crore in the maximum city.
Let's have a look at all the projects the Prime Minister shall be gifting the city of Mumbai.
He will inaugurate two lines of Mumbai Metro 2A and 7 from Gundavali Metro station in Andheri, and will also undertake a Metro ride from the station — because of this the Metro services shall remain shut for a brief period. This has caused some anguish amongst the citizens, as it is happening during the peak hours.
However, the important thing is that the Metro lines which Prime Minister Modi will be inaugurating today, foundation stones for the same, were also laid by the Prime Minister in 2015 — when Devendra Fadnavis was the chief minister of the state — during his first stint.
Coming to the next project, he will also launch MUMBAI 1, a mobile app and National Common Mobility Card. This app is meant to facilitate ease of travel and support digital payments.
While Metro has taken the limelight, and we shall know why in the next few paragraphs, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has a lot of other projects that the Prime Minister shall be inaugurating today (19 January).
Prime Minister Modi will lay the foundation stone of seven sewage treatment plants, which will be built at a cost of around Rs 17,200 crore. These plants shall come up at Malad, Bhandup, Versova, Ghatkopar, Bandra, Dharavi and Worli, with a combined capacity of nearly 2,460 MLD.
The BMC, for the longest period, has had dispensaries in the remotest corner of the city. On those lines, the Prime Minister will inaugurate 20 'Hinduhridaysamrat Balasaheb Thackeray Aapla Dawakhanas'.
These Dawakhanas or dispensaries will be providing essential medical services like health check-ups, medicines, investigations and diagnostics completely free to people.
The focus on healthcare infrastructure in the city has taken prominence. Prime Minister Modi shall also lay the foundation stone for re-development of three hospitals in Mumbai — the Bhandup Multi-speciality Municipal Hospital, the Siddharth Nagar Hospital, and the Oshiwara Maternity Home.
Prime Minister Modi will also inaugurate a concretisation project for nearly 400-km of roads in Mumbai, and the project will be developed at a cost of about Rs 6,100 crore.
Shiv Sena (Uddhav Thackeray) leader Aaditya Thackeray, claimed that the concretisation will lead to Mumbai having a similar fate, to that of Joshimath. However, the BMC, which was under the rule of the same Uddhav Sena in the past, had awarded several concrete road contracts.
The Prime Minister will lay the foundation stone for the re-development of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, a UNESCO world heritage site. This project is expected to cost over Rs 1,800 crore.
Prime Minister Modi will also start the transfer of approved loans, of over one lakh beneficiaries under the 'PM SVANidhi Yojana'.
Now, let's talk about how Prime Minister Modi, while inaugurating the projects, is also re-igniting the hopes of Mumbaikars.
The Metro project suffered massively in the rule of Uddhav Thackeray led MahaVikas Aghadi (MVA) government.
Though the car-shed at Aarey is for Metro-3, the moment Aaditya Thackeray became minister (and his father the chief minister), with the support of two other parties — the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party — One of the first decision that the father-son duo took was that of shifting the car-shed from Aarey to Kanjurmarg.
Those unaware of the crucial aspects would wonder how this could matter, but, the mere decision of shifting the car-shed from Aarey to Kanjurmarg delayed the crucial Metro-3 project and also became one of the prime reasons for the cost escalation of Rs 10,000 crore and above in the project.
With every passing day during the MVA rule, the hopes of Mumbaikars were dimming — will they get to ride the metro in future?
But with the inauguration of the two metro lines today (19 January), and its opening to the common public, senior journalist and author of several infrastructure books, Rajendra B Akelkar, claims that more than 16 lakh Mumbaikars will benefit.
"The entire Western Suburbs that take the highway will now have an option of travelling via these metro lines. The cost escalation of the Metro 3, by more than Rs 10,000 crore, has also impacted other infrastructure projects, because the state government has limited budget," claimed the author.
Many are associating the inauguration of these projects as sounding the bugle for the elections of BMC — the richest municipal corporation in the country — by the BJP and Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena (led by Eknath Shinde).
But none of the projects announced are political, none of them include freebies — but all of them are infrastructure projects that will benefit crores of Mumbaikars. If a political party is not going to seek votes on development of infrastructure, then what else should it showcase to get votes?
Most Mumbaikars are least bothered about the politics here, what matters to them today is that the Prime Minister is inaugurating the metro lines for them, and that this will help them reach from one end to the other, without getting stuck in traffic, and without their work and travel hours eating into family time.
Now that the western suburbs are taken care of, the central suburbs are waiting and with other metro lines, soon, the central suburbs will also have traffic free roads.
Varun Singh, is a Mumbai-based journalist and tracks politics and other important news from the western region of the country. Varun has spent close to 18 years in journalism.
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