Wednesday, July, 17,2024

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Fadnavis is all smiles, even self-deprecating in good humour

Mumbai: Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was all smiles when chatting with First India and emphatically said that all the major infrastructure projects initiated in his previous tenure as CM--which were stalled by the subsequent MVA government including the Bullet Train exposure--will be revived once again (as exclusively reported by First India in our Saturday edition).

Fadnavis’s demeanour was not lost on the select news media professionals, with whom he had a jocular and free-wheeling conversation, in his office in Vidhan Bhavan--more compact than the larger space accorded to him as leader of the opposition for the last two-anda-half-years. On the Aarey Metro-3 shed project, he noted that 25% of the work (Rs100 crore worth) on the project was already completed without any complaints by his then alliance partner the Shiv Sena, which subsequently decided to relocate the shed to Kanjurmarg.

“When Rs100 crore was spent in Aarey in Goregaon, there were no complaints. After that, they halted the project, which resulted in a cost escalation of Rs10,000 crore owing to the incremental cost of the delays. Now, if we seek to relocate to Kanjurmarg, it would entail a further cost of Rs10-15,000 crore, over and above the Rs10,000 crore escalation in the Rs22000 crore Metro project. There will be no more tree cutting required at the Aarey site,” he said. The Forest land that the Sena has allocated will be left intact, Fadnavis added.

On the topic of Mumbai’s pre-eminence as the financial capital of India, he was clear about the lost opportunity of making it the International Financial Service Centre (IFSC). “The opportunity for this was presented to the state in 2003 when Congress CM Prithviraj Chavan was at the helm but was squandered. Then, in 2012, then Gujarat CM Narendra Modi submitted the proposal for Gujarat for an IFSC in Ahmedabad, which was cleared by the thenUPA government. In 2014, when I sent a proposal to the Centre for Mumbai, they responded that with the IFSC already being populated in Ahmedabad, a parallel project would upset the equilibrium of the sanctioned proposal,” Fadnavis said. He added that Mumbai enjoyed an exclusive (business) ecosystem that would no doubt still be able to incubate an IFCS in the near future. “I was trying to give (alliance partner and CM Eknath Shinde’s political formation) a push, after which I experienced a pushback myself,” he said in a lighter vein, referring to his apparent political demotion, in Maharashtra where he ruled the roost between 2014 and 2019 as CM.

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