By Chetan Chauhan www.hindustantimes.com
The Planning Commission on Thursday approved an annual plan of Rs 42,000 for Maharashtra with the state government urging the Centre to approval phase III of metro project for Mumbai.
Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said the state was willing to provide viability gap funding of 20 % of the project cost of phase-III, which is underground and asked the plan panel deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia to speed up the approval process.
Mumbai metro is being constructed in a public private partnership mode and is designed to carry six lakh passengers every year. The two phases are under construction whereas the third is under the approval process.
Chavan also asked the Central government to allow export of 15-20 lakh million tonnes of sugar as against five lakh tonnes allowed by the Central government. He cited huge constraints in the storage facilities to increase export limit.
To this, the plan panel officials suggested the state government to define a new cropping pattern for the state as sugarcane consumed lot of water. The commission also wanted the state to come out with water budget for different regions of the state.
In a presentation made, the state government announced that Maharashtra will be load shedding free-state by 2012 even though there was power shortage of 3,000 Megawatt. This will be done through dedicated power supply system for the agriculture sector.
In the coming years, the state government fears that prices of electricity may rise as the existing power plants in Vidharba were facing huge shortage of coal and the cost of imported coal was very high. It was also felt that bringing coal from Orissa, which the plants have been allocated some coal blocks, will not be cost effective and asked the Central government to review its coal allocation policy.
Ahluwalia appreciated the state government for improving pace of development complimented them for new initiatives including human development mission for select districts and master plan for health infrastructure.
Under the Foreign Direct Investment scheme, 4,175 projects with an investment of about Rs, 83,779 crore have been approved for the state and of them 1,665 units have already been commissioned.
Apart from them, a total of 16,140 projects involving an investment of Rs 6,95,516 crore have been taken up between August 2001 and August 2010. Of them 6657 projects have started production.
“About 35 % of total FDI in the country has come up in Maharashtra,” Chavan said.
Briefing the commission Chavan said fiscal discipline was the priority and efforts are on to make benefits of development reach people. He said an investment of Rs. 2,50,000 crore with an employment of around 5 lakh persons was expected in next four years. He sought Planning Commission support in taking forward various projects including third phase of metro.