When Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde decided to rope in key administrator and retired and veteran IAS officer Radheshyam Mopalwar as Director General of War Room-Infrastructure Projects, it was not simply an appointment of an officer to be handed over the huge tasks related to infrastructural development in the state. It was also a stamp of confirmation on Mopalwar’s established ability for vision building and skills to execute complex projects which the state of Maharashtra cannot do without. That Mopalwar was given such an important responsibility “to fast track key” infrastructure projects in Maharashtra, speaks volumes about the former IAS officer’s past performance and track-record in terms of putting the state on a higher infrastructure development trajectory.
It goes without saying that the appointment of Radheshyam Mopalwar, the 1995 batch IAS officer who retired in February 2018, is facilitating speedy and planned implementation of key infrastructure projects in Maharashtra. Working as Maharashtra’s principal advisor (Infrastructure) to the Chief Minister, Mopalwar is not new to such projects. The state government is aware of the rich experience that Mopalwar has been carrying out in terms of implementing various infrastructure projects of the state and plans for a network of expressways. Mopalwar is credited to have paved the way for the 701-km Mumbai Nagpur Samruddhi Mahamarg or Mumbai-Nagpur Super Communication Expressway in a record time. The land acquisition for the corridor that connects 10 districts was a gigantic task for the authorities concerned. Mopalwar handled it tactfully, doing full justice to the land owners. The land acquisition began in July 2017. Its foundation stone was laid in December 2018. It was only four years later that the 520-km stretch from Nagpur was thrown open. An additional 80-km between Shirdi and Bharvir near Nashik also became operational and the remaining is scheduled for completion in the next few months. In fact, Mopalwar had been instrumental in executing and implementing this project from the beginning to the point where it has reached so far.
In fact, the veteran bureaucrat who was handpicked by Eknath Shinde as the DG (War Room Infrastructure Projects) believes in time-bound implementation of any infrastructure project that is given to him. This is the reason why the state government supposedly relied upon Mopalwar. It was in recognition of his capabilities that the state government reappointed him as MD Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation after his retirement in 2018. He planned, executed and supervised the project Samruddhi Mahamarg from 2018.
Significantly, the second phase of Mumbai-Nagpur Samruddhi Mahamarg, an 80-km stretch between Shirdi and Bharvir village in Igatpuri taluka in Nashik district, was inaugurated on May 27 by CM Eknath Shinde and Dy CM Devendra Fadnavis. The first phase of the Mahamarg, connecting Nagpur to the temple town of Shirdi in Ahmednagar district covering 520 km, has been in operation since December 2022, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated it. It was only four years after Mopalwar took charge of the project. Now a total of 600 km out of the 701 km of the Samruddhi Expressway is now open to the public. The remaining 100-km stretch under Phase 3 between Igatpuri and Vadpe in Thane will be completed by the end of this year or by March next year. Many doubted that this project will take 15-20 years to complete, but it was completed in record time.
So, the 701-km long and Rs 33,335 crore Samruddhi Expressway is another feather in the cap of one of the state’s longest serving bureaucrats Mopalwar. After being reappointed as vice chairman and MD of MSRDC, Mopalwar worked relentlessly on this project. It was a crowning moment for the veteran bureaucrat when the initial stretch was inaugurated. His indispensability stood vindicated when the government got him back from retirement by creating a special post DG (War Room Infrastructure Projects) to oversee the implementation of massive infra projects across the state of Maharashtra. In fact, Mopalwar spearheaded Maharashtra’s Information Technology department in the 90s. Mopalwar played a crucial role in facilitating the land acquisition process as it was not an easy task to acquire land from the farmers for the project. In fact, in the run-up to the land acquisition, communicators were hired by the corporation to guide and counsel the farmers. The government created a communication and project monitoring office and hired several boys and girls who had a degree in Master of Social Work. In fact the job involved a lot of behavioural science and the need to communicate effectively with the villagers.
With vast administrative experience, Mopalwar also executed prestigious projects like Gur-ta-Gaddi at Nanded between 2005-09 when he was Collector of the Nanded District. Not only the infra projects, Mopalwar also played a key role in revival of the Nanded District Central Cooperative Bank as well as in development of Nanded City. Experts believe that this could be possible only if an officer has multifaceted talent and skill to deal with any situation that the system tends to tumble upon during execution and implementation of any ambitious project. No doubt, Mopalwar’s guidance and proactive role in other road and infra projects will put the state of Maharashtra on a higher growth trajectory.