BJP MLA warns of agitation if NMMC pays ₹1400 cr for Rly project
Shiv Sena says amount substantially reduced, civic body to pay from increase development charges over several year
NAVI MUMBAI: Political clash has broken out over the state government staying a general body resolution by the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) that rejected a government order (GR) asking the civic body to bear a cost of ₹1,400 crore for a Communication-Based Train Control (CBTC) project at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSTM)-Panvel harbour railway line.
The NMMC general body had, while rejecting the government proposal in 2019, stated that it will burden them with a cost that does not concern them, but the government has now reiterated that it is in the public interest.
Former minister and BJP Airoli MLA Ganesh Naik who at the time led the NCP ruled civic body which had rejected the erstwhile BJP-Shiv Sena government order, has now warned of an agitation if NMMC plans to pay the amount asked by the government.
Naik who raised the issue with municipal commissioner Rajesh Narvekar said, “NMMC has been asked to pay ₹1400 cr for Mumbai-Karjat and CSTM-Panvel CBTC railway project. The project is planned to be financed by MMRDA, CIDCO and NMMC. We will not allow the giving of ₹1400 cr by NMMC.”
Stated Naik, “During the Covid pandemic, neither of the nodal agencies MMRDA or CIDCO gave a single rupee worth of help to Navi Mumbai. We will not allow Navi Mumbai to be looted.”
Warned Naik, who has repeatedly castigated the civic administration for working under pressure and not in the interest of the city, “If there is any attempt to give this fund, we shall exercise our democratic right to launch an agitation against it and oppose the move.”
Commenting on the demand, Shiv Sena upneta and former NMMC commissioner Vijay Nahata said, “The original order had come during the Devendra Fadnavis government tenure. Since the cabinet decision was rejected by the general body, the government has now reiterated the demand as a cabinet decision cannot be rejected.”
He informed, “We understand that the government has asked the nodal agencies to double the development charges levied by them to finance the demand made and it has to be paid over 5 years. The amount to be paid by NMMC has also been substantially reduced.”
Assured Nahata, “We will of course take up the issue with chief minister Eknath Shinde to get complete details and ensure Navi Mumbai is not burdened in any manner.”
Speaking on the order, municipal commissioner Rajesh Narvekar denied he had asked for the rejection of the GB resolution by the state. “I had only reported the rejection of the proposal which had been presented under the instructions of the government.”
Narvekar further stated, “I understand the figure has been considerably reduced after the proposal had been rejected by the GB. Initially, it was for two projects of CSTM-Panvel and another line. Now only the CSTM-Panvel route is being considered.”
Stated Narvekar, “We shall study the order in detail and respond to the government accordingly.”
With all eyes on what course of action the commissioner takes, the city could witness yet another slugfest between alliance partners Shiv Sena and BJP on NMMC allegedly being exploited.
The railways have planned the CBTC project to help increase the frequency of local trains and to minimise the gaps between the trains. It is expected to allow 24 trains an hour to ply, which is at present 16, reducing the headway between the trains from 4 minutes to 2 minutes.
The cost of the project was estimated at ₹15,909 crore of which the state had to bear 50% share i.e. ₹7,954.40 crore. The state reportedly decided to shift the cost burden to MMRDA, CIDCO, and BMC (15% each) and NMMC (5%). It directed NMMC to the cost to the tune of ₹795.45 crore via an order on March 9, 2018. The nodal agencies were asked to make budgetary provisions for the same and transfer the amounts to Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation.
Thereafter the former municipal commissioner Ramaswamy N-led NMMC administration presented a proposal in the general body of elected corporators to approve a transfer of ₹1,393.55 crore as NMMC’s share to the state for the project.
The house, however, rejected the proposal with a majority on February 20, 2019, stating that the civic body did not benefit from the project and hence the huge cost burden on it is not justified.
NMMC was at the time ruled by the former minister and current BJP MLA Ganesh Naik led NCP while the BJP-Shiv Sena government was in power.
At that time, Ramaswamy had been at loggerheads with the ruling, which had rejected several of his proposals in the house and he had sent them to the state for approval.
Four years after the rejection of the house, on July 27 this year, Rajesh Narvekar, municipal commissioner says he “reported the rejection of the government proposal by NMMC general body to the state.”
Following the communication by the commissioner, the UD has now in its order dated November 29 stayed the resolution rejecting its order under the Maharashtra Municipal Corporations Act Section 451(1) as it is against people’s interest and government order. It has given a 30 days period for the ‘concerned’ to submit their say, if any. The order states that if there is no submission, further requisite action will be taken as per section 451(3) of the Act.
Currently, there is no elected body in NMMC presently, as the tenure of the last body ended in 2020 and no civic elections have been held since, as is the case with several municipal corporations in the state. The possibility of the elected body of corporators that had rejected the proposal now responding hence does not exist.