MUMBAI: The Bullet Train, greenfield refinery at Nanar and Metro car shed in Aarey were just a few of the projects opposed by the Shiv Sena during the past five years under the BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis. Now, when Uddhav Thackeray is about to take oath as Chief Minister, speculation is high on whether any of these projects will be rolled back.
Of the several big-ticket infrastructure projects initiated in Maharashtra during Fadnavis’ tenure, the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Railway or Bullet Train project met with probably the stiffest resistance.
Farmers from Thane and the Palghar belt have opposed their lands being acquired for the project while most opposition parties, as well as the Shiv Sena, had questioned the choice of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route for the project. They had also expressed solidarity with the farmers and opposed the acquisition of their lands.
Now, questions are being asked as to what the government plans to do to keep its word. A senior NCP leader, who had participated in the agitation against the Bullet Train project, said they are examining whether the state government can divert its share of Rs 5,000 crore in this project to the loan waiver scheme that the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government plans to bring in for the farmers’ welfare.
Outgoing Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had said that he would continue to look after existing projects and the interest of the common man from the Opposition benches. This means the issue is likely to be a point of clash for the government from the moment it assumes office.
Following Fadnavis’ resignation, many had expressed fears that big-ticket projects might be immediate victims to vendetta politics.
“Whoever in Maharashtra is the next CM, I hope the Metro work does not stop. Please,” author Devdutt Pattanaik tweeted.
However, a senior Shiv Sena leader cleared the party’s stand on the issue, saying it opposed projects only based on the apprehensions of locals.
“Uddhavji has said many times that the Shiv Sena won’t oppose the project if people want it for their welfare. There is no reason why this stand should change,” the leader said.
The Rs 46,000 crore worth Mumbai-Nagpur Samruddhi Corridor is another project which the Shiv Sena had initially opposed. However, after addressing the concerns of farmers, Shiv Sena leader and MSRDC minister Eknath Shinde had started working aggressively on this project.
Since there is no opposition to the project now, it may get a go-ahead from the new government. However, several Metro projects that are in various stages of environmental clearances might face an uncertain future under the new government, said a senior official while requesting anonymity.
“Demand for scrutiny of financial and environmental aspects of the projects would certainly be raised,” said environmental activist Manish Gadia.