Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis may have physically shifted to the official CM residence ‘Varsha’ in Mumbai, but his heart is still in the right place – Apna Nagpur!
He addressed his first press conference to a House – full Patrakar Bhawan last evening where an unprecedented thing happened. The 100+ journalists present there gave a standing ovation and three cheers to an almost bashful looking Devendra.
As Mr. Brahma Shankar Tripathi, President of the Nagpur Union of Working Journalists commented in his welcome speech : ” with Devendra Fadnavis taking oath 35 lakh residents of Nagpur ALL became Chief Ministers of Maharashtra! The joy and sense of achievement was so personal for everyone cutting across age, language and even party barriers.”
Responding to this sentiment as if, most of CM Fadnavis’ meet with the press in Nagpur centered around Nagpur and MIHAN. He is so full of zeal about this that it seems that if he goes at this speed no one can prevent Nagpur from not just being a true (second) Capital of the state but a Dream City. If in the past few years Nagpur has been like the Cindrella all dressed up but nowhere to go to and the clock about to strike 12, Devendra has come like the Prince Charming with the right shoe! Which in this case, is the Master plan that will help Nagpur realize its potential, finally.
Among some general state issues, he spoke at length about his plans for reviving MIHAN – multi nodal international hub and airport at Nagpur – and making city infrastructure more robust and trouble free.
“Why should the ring roads of Nagpur have to be repaired and tarred over in patches after every monsoon? We will look into converting all of them into durable cement roads.”
“Nagpur industrialists and Vidarbha farmers definitely deserve to get cheaper power and uninterrupted connection – specially with reference to rural areas. There is a huge back log of irrigation pump connections so farmers cannot avail of ground water even in assured rain fall areas. Thus they cannot go in for multi cropping round the year – and if their one Kharif crop fails the vicious circle of debt and suicides begins. We are also studying how we can help Vidarbha, specially cotton farmers increase their soil productivity so farming becomes more remunerative” said Fadnavis of an area which had the most vibrant cotton market in the world situated in Amravathi just some decades ago. And flourishing Cotton mills in Nagpur that dated prior than even the Mumbai mills.
To improve the Power situation, the Coal production must go up and coal mined in this area properly utilized, he pointed out. “Many super thermal power stations of the area have coal stocks for only 2-3 days. It is a precarious situation. One has to then depend on expensive imported coal which drives up the costs of power.”
When some journalists mentioned the fact that IPS officers and often bureaucrats too are reluctant to be posted to Nagpur leading to a backlog in this area also the CM said “well, they now know their Chief Minister is from this city, their attitude and therefore the situation will HAVE to change.”
Speaking about MIHAN over which a lot of deliberations seemed to have taken place throughout the day, he said that though the infrastructure for the SEZ is ready, it is not attracting industries because of the high power tarrif. The Abhijeet group which was supposed to provide electricity to MIHAN is embroiled in court cases and unable to fulfill its commitments. We shall look at alternate suppliers and also explore if there can an out of court settlement vis a vis Abhijeet which will save us costly time.
“I am looking at a target of 15 days to rectify a lot of the MIHAN issues whether they be that of land acquisition, Thudpi jungles and reluctant MOU partners. 58 parties signed MOUs with MADC to start their projects in MIHAN, but only 9 have come in. We shall have one on one meetings with all the defaulters to find out what their problems are and how we can help them”.
The idea of creating a “Mini Mantralaya” in Nagpur and holding a minimum 6 weeks of the winter assembly session in the city according to the ‘Nagpur Act’ have been hanging fire for a long time.
“I will ensure that the Nagpur session continues till the last business on the agenda is covered, how ever long it takes” Mr. Fadnavis promised. ” Though Maharashtra is very progressive in the soft ware industry unfortunately it hasn’t reflected in our Government where hard files still have to be physically moved from ministry to ministry and desk to desk. We shall soon introduce e-governance with which we can definitely create a Mini Mantralaya in Nagpur as promised.”
He also promised that the projects of bringing IIT, AIMS and National Law School to Nagpur as also an internantional Health City at MIHAN will be on the fast track.
Mr. Fadnavis mused about why the Mumbai model for urban development cannot be copied to Nagpur and Pune, wherein more FSI is available for construction which can drive down cost of real estate.
“The FSI of the mofussil areas of Gorewada are as low as 0.04. How can any hospitality industry come up in such a situation to cater to the tourists – both national and international – who will visit the Gorewada Zoo and animal rescue centre?”
“Nagpur should be created into a NUCLEUS for development of tourism. Visitors should feel comfortable staying in the city for a week and making day trips to various tourist attractions around.”
The young CM shared his passionate views on many such issues concerning Nagpur and Vidarbha – like development of Gadchiroli, tackling of the Naxalite menace, police traning NMC vs. NIT… the role of PWD etc. etc. Not for nothing he is known for his in depth study of problems and an aptitude for solving them.
To go back to borrowing from fairy tale lore – may be it is time Sleeping Beauty (our Nagpur) wakes up with the kiss of life!