Thane’s growth story lacks de­sired mile­stones

Wa­ter scarcity is now fast-ap­proach­ing Navi Mum­bai de­spite a sep­a­rate dam

DNA Sunday (Mumbai) - - MUMBAI - San­jay Jog san­[email protected]­

The Thane Lok Sabha con­stituency — com­pris­ing of three ma­jor civic bod­ies namely Thane, Navi Mum­bai and Mira Bhayan­der — has been in the lime­light for var­i­ous com­mer­cial devel­op­men­tal projects in­clud­ing of­fice tow­ers, shop­ping com­plexes, and en­ter­tain­ment fa­cil­i­ties et cetera. But is­sues di­rectly af­fect­ing the pub­lic dis­course like un­em­ploy­ment, in­ad­e­quate trans­port in­fra­struc­ture, traf­fic con­ges­tion, wa­ter scarcity, ris­ing slums, and in­creas­ing pop­u­la­tion may con­tinue to pose chal­lenges. One of the rea­sons be­hind the same is the shut down of labour in­ten­sive man­u­fac­tur­ing and en­gi­neer­ing in­dus­tries of their in­abil­ity to keep pace with a rise in pop­u­la­tion.

Even as the ser­vices sec­tor in­clud­ing re­tail, hous­ing and hospi­tal­ity have de­vel­oped in

Thane — a re­gion with a pop­u­la­tion of 22 lakh — job cre­ation for both, skilled and un­skilled man­power will be an is­sue that will have to be ef­fec­tively ad­dressed to by elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives and the party in power.

In terms of hous­ing, de­spite wit­ness­ing a slew of hous­ing projects, af­ford­able homes is a dis­tant dream for Thane, Navi Mum­bai and Mira Bhayan­der res­i­dents; the much-de­bated clus­ter devel­op­ment projects, too, are mov­ing at a snail’s pace.

Even as Shiv Sena MP from the con­stituency, Ra­jan Vichare has made tall claims of hav­ing given a boost to devel­op­ment projects, the party faces a huge chal­lenge if it de­cides to go solo in the up­com­ing Lok Sabha elec­tion. Shiv Sena and Vichare plan to reach out to vot­ers on the devel­op­ment plank and are aim­ing to reap the ben­e­fits of a strong or­gan­i­sa­tional net­work.

How­ever, the BJP is dis­ap­pointed with Vichare’s per­for­mance and wants to do away with his in­ac­tion by sell­ing an al­ter­nate growth plan to the vot­ers in case an al­liance does not work out. Sim­i­larly, the NCP, which had won the seat in the 2009 elec­tion, pro­poses to ex­pose the Shiv Sena’’s non­per­for­mance. But it will have to strive in or­der to stage a come­back due to weak or­gan­i­sa­tion.

While on one hand, Vichare, in his self-de­fence, claims he car­ried out over 250 projects in mul­ti­ple sec­tors in­clud­ing trans­port, pub­lic health, wa­ter, ed­u­ca­tion by mo­bil­is­ing ad­e­quate funds through his cor­pus and con­cerned de­part­ments. On the other hand, other par­ties and Thanekars have a dif­fer­ent ver­sion to share; lit­tle has been done, they say, to de­con­gest traf­fic, con­trol pol­lu­tion, bur­geon­ing wa­ter scarcity, age­ing in­fra­struc­ture and growth of slums.

BJP leg­is­la­tor San­jay Kelkar says Vichare’s in­ac­tion and in­ef­fec­tive per­for­mance in the past five years can­not be over­looked. “Thane needs a sep­a­rate dam to meet its ris­ing de­mand for wa­ter. But no progress has been made on this front. It was due to the BJP-led gov­ern­ment in the state and the Cen­tre that Thane city and other seg­ments are wit­ness­ing im­ple­men­ta­tion of trans­port in­fra­struc­ture projects in­clud­ing metro, rail over­bridge and lo­gis­tic parks,’’ Kelkar said.

Kelkar’s view is crit­i­cal in the light of the Bom­bay high court’s re­cent scathing re­mark say­ing that wa­ter short­age will soon make Thane the next Marath­wada, a wa­ter deficit re­gion. Wa­ter scarcity is a fastap­proach­ing prob­lem for Navi Mum­bai too de­spite its own ir­ri­ga­tion dam; the pri­mary rea­son is a spur in realty devel­op­ment.

Full re­port: www.dnain­

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