Nagpur: After three months of finance minister Arun Jaitley’s visit to South Korea, it is be rumoured that South Korea might invest a sum of Rs. 45,000 crores in the ambitious Mumbai-Nagpur expressway project.
As states a central government source, Seoul has already prepared a proposal for the project and even submitted it to India. It is for the first time that South Korea will be investing such huge amount for a project in India. The Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway is a dream project of Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis.
A Central government source told ThePrint that Seoul has already prepared a proposal for the Rs 45,000-crore project and submitted it to the Government of India.
Fadnavis will travel to South Korea by September-end or early October to finalise the partnership. The proposal from South Korea has come after finance minister Arun Jaitley visited Seoul in June.
On 14 June, Jaitley co-chaired the fifth India-Korea Financial Dialogue with his South Korean counterpart Kim Dong-yeon. “The leaders agreed that in the face of uncertainty and the risk of rising protectionism, there was an urgent need for the two countries to increase efforts to stimulate investment flows, support for infrastructure development, bilateral trade, among others,” said a press statement released after the meeting.
An agreement was signed between the two countries to draw $9 billion in concessional credit and $1 billion as official development assistance (ODA) from Seoul for infrastructure projects in India.
It was also agreed to establish a mechanism at senior official level to identify good infrastructure projects in India and raise funds.
The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation is planning to raise Rs 30,000 crore from loans for the expressway project while the rest of the expenditure would be met by various state agencies.
The 706-km expressway would be a greenfield project for which land acquisition has already started. It would reduce the travel time from Mumbai to Nagpur from the current 10-12 hours to six hours.
The expressway would cross through 10 districts of Maharashtra. The plan is to develop 24 industrial townships alongside the expressway in a phased manner.
The state government has set an ambitious target of completing it in two years.
In June, the state government had floated tenders for the project that’s divided into 16 stretches. The contract for each stretch will be awarded separately.
Although the government had planned to start the construction in October, it has not been able to finalise contractors and resolve issues pertaining to funds and land acquisition.
If everything goes as planned, this would be the second major foreign investment in Maharashtra after the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project, which is being funded by the Japan government.
The Mumbai–Nagpur expressway project has a lot of political significance for the BJP. Besides being the hometown of Fadnavis and Union road transport minister Nitin Gadkari, Nagpur is where the RSS, BJP’s ideological parent, is headquartered.
Apart from this, the expressway would pass through the drought-affected regions of Marathwada and Vidarbha, where the BJP had done well in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
The state government claims that the proposed expressway would transform the region, which has earned notoriety for suicides of farmers, and hence, the project has been named ‘Mumbai-Nagpur Samriddhi Corridor’.