Maharashtra must buck up on infrastructure: Ratan Tata

Amid the hoopla over the Make in India Week, industry doyen Ratan Tata, chairman of Tata Trusts, said the Devendra Fadnavis-led Maharashtra government needed to get its act together to remove crucial infrastructure bottlenecks which have the potential to affect the state's ambitious plans for the manufacturing sector and the state's economy.

Speaking in a panel discussion, with several industry leaders in attendance, Tata noted that the state had over the years failed to create infrastructure at the pace of growth. He, however, said Fadnavis had the vision to resolve that and look at it holistically.

"I think we have the basics over here, we need the focus,'' said Tata, stressing on the need to create industrial parks with all benefits like in Silicon Valley.

During a later discussion, referring to Tata's statement, Fadnavis admitted his government had lagged behind in infrastructure for the past few years. "The way we have grown industrially, the way we have produced human resources, the infrastructure could not match the pace. I think that's key. Other states developed at the cost of Maharashtra. Because of a few reasons, infrastructure growth of Maharashtra was very slow,'' said Fadnavis.

He added that the state and Centre were working to clear these issues, including stalled projects and those pending for environmental clearance. Expanding capacity in ports, creation of railway corridors and adding national highway length was also underway.

"Nagpur-Mumbai communication super expressway will be the game changer," said Fadnavis, adding that 14 districts will be directly connected to JNPT and the longest distance to the port will be just eight hours. At least seven districts will be at a distance of just four hours from the port, which is located across the Mumbai harbour.

Clearances for the Navi Mumbai International Airport have been completed and the first flight will take off by 2019. The MTHL, "which will open up the entire hinterland, is being cleared at a record pace", and the development of the Greenfield NAINA city, which will be bigger than Mumbai, and the long-pending Mumbai coastal road have also being fast-tracked.

"We created two Metro corridor DPRs in just four months; in two months, the bids will be called," said Fadnavis, adding that some railway lines would open up the entire ecosystem of backward regions like Vidarbha and Marathwada.

Railway minister Suresh Prabhu said they were trying to ensure seamless connectivity at lowest possible time and cost. Nitin Gadkari, union minister for roads, transport, highways and shipping, said the Wadhwan port, which has a draft of 18 metres and investment of Rs10,000 crore, would be submitted to the cabinet for clearance before March, with work on the breakwaters being started in six months. The project will be completed in two years.