The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) came in for scathing criticism and questioning this week in the Maharashtra Assembly when former minister Jayant Patil pointed out that the agency was reeling under a debt of Rs 60,000 crore and asked how it would fund all the development projects it has planned. Declaring new projects, which the agency did earlier this month in its budget, was an eye-wash because it did not have even the Rs 5,000 crore needed, Patil said. The MMRDA had earlier reported a deficit of Rs 5,014 crore in its budget for 2023-24 with a total estimated receipt of nearly Rs 23,700 crore.
The agency was permitted last year, soon after the Eknath Shinde-Devendra Fadnavis government was sworn in, to raise Rs 60,000 crore loans to fund its plans and projects. The entire amount may not be raised at once this year itself. But how the agency which was once cash-rich has come to this pass that it needs loans for projects worth Rs 5,000 crore is worth a deep and honest probe. As it proposes to monetise its assets, it is pertinent to ask how it explains the gap between its dreams and funding, and where did its money go.
The MMRDA’s remit runs far and wide covering more than 6,300 sq. km. comprising nine municipal corporations besides nine municipal councils, and is responsible for over 23.5 million citizens. It is directly under the purview of the state government and functions like a super municipal corporation across the region. Its role has come in for scrutiny lately when it planned to take the region’s GDP to nearly Rs 25,000 crore beyond its usual work of planning and constructing roads and bridges.
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