Mumbai: A rather flustered Union Minister for Surface Transport Nitin Gadkari declared on Friday in a media interaction that he wanted to push his pet amphibious bus project off the Gateway into the sea. He is miffed as the project has run into stiff opposition from the Green Clearance Committee, which is not giving clearance for a ramp at Malabar Hill.
Gadkari was at Jawahar Lal Nehru Port Trust when he was asked about the status of the amphibious bus service. An exasperated Gadkari remarked: “I want to sink that project in the sea. The Green Clearance Committee is not giving its clearance for a ramp at Malabar Hill. I would like to invite you all at the Gateway of India and see me dump the project into the sea.”
Ironically, Gadkari is feeling flustered at the inaction of his own government. The Minister has an ambitious plan to redevelop land owned by the Bombay Port Trust, spread on 966.3 hectares from Colaba to Wadala. However, prime properties, including Hotel Taj and Radio Club, are allegedly not inclined to vacate the land. His ministry has even filed a petition in the Bombay High Court seeking removal of encroachments and other unwanted properties located on the port trust land. However, according to Gadkari, the matter still awaits the court’s intervention.
The Eastern Waterfront project, which envisages creation of marinas, promenades, a cycling track and a central park larger than Hyde Park in London, is also bogged down due to lack of requisite approvals from various departments. Gadkari’s ambitious initiative of starting ethanol-operated Green Bus in his home town, Nagpur, has also come a cropper. Swedish bus maker Scania has suspended its service from August 12 due to non-adherence to various contractual conditions by the Nagpur Municipal Corporation. It is feared the service may be scrapped all-together.
Again, the Nagpur Municipal Corporation is ruled by Gadkari’s own party. Incidentally, both Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Gadkari have Nagpur moorings. A party insider claimed there is more to the denial of permissions than meets the eye and it has a lot to do with the internal power struggle within the BJP.