Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently inaugurated the first phase of the Samruddhi Mahamarg, or Nagpur-Mumbai Super Communication Expressway project.
This 701 km-long road called the Hindu Hrudaysamrat Balasaheb Thackeray Maharashtra Samruddhi Mahamarg is one of India’s longest expressways, passing through Maharashtra’s 10 districts and prominent urban regions of Amravati, Aurangabad and Nashik.
The project will help improve the connectivity of adjoining 14 other districts, thus helping in development of about 24 districts of the state including the regions of Vidarbha, Marathwada and North Maharashtra.
At the inauguration of this project, Eknath Shinde, Chief Minister of Maharashtra spoke to BW Businessworld about this game changing project and more.
In many of your interviews you have called the Samruddhi Mahamarg project as a game changing project for the state of Maharashtra, can you elaborate on this?
As you know the Samruddhi highway spans 701 kms and recently the Nagpur to Shirdi part was inaugurated by the hon’ble prime minister on 11th Dec 2022.
This is a game changer project for the state of Maharashtra and for the country for many reasons. To begin with, this highway will reduce travel time from 18 hours to 6 to 7 hours. From Nagpur to Shirdi it will now take just four hours, and from Nagpur to Mumbai it will just take six hours.
The Samruddhi Mahamarg will also connect to the Delhi Mumbai Expressway, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust and tourist locations like Ajanta Ellora Caves, Shirdi, Verul, Lonar, among others. Samruddhi Mahamarg will be a game-changer in providing a major boost to economic development of Maharashtra.
We have developed this project in an utmost eco friendly manner. Almost Rs 300 cr plus have been spent to make it friendly for the wildlife areas that it passes through. There are eight overpasses and 92 underpasses throughout the highway for the wild animals to move freely and safely from one side to the other.
We are also planning to generate 250 MW of solar energy on this highway by deploying the latest technology. We have done 33 lakh small and big plantations on this highway to make it an example of eco-friendly development.
Apart from that, we have developed industrial hubs along the highway which includes agro industrial hubs, logistics hubs , food processing hubs , cold storage chains plus industrial townships and residential townships. It will create employment to lakhs of people, so in every sense it’s a game changer project.
Uneven regional development in Maharashtra has been a long pending concern, how will this project address this gap?
Earlier only Mumbai, Pune and Nashik were seen as hubs of commerce in our state. Now the Samruddhi highway will address this disparity. Businesses will now get a chance to look at Nagpur, Amravati, Aurangabad and Jalna because of the improved connectivity. On our part we will provide subsidies and infrastructure to these businesses and brands like Reliance, Adani, Amazon and Flipkart are already latching onto this new opportunity
Also it’s not just this highway, we are doing development work across the state to ensure there is no disparity in infra facilities. Today my state has the highest number of infrastructure development projects underway and the Hon’ble prime Minister Sh Narendra Modi has given us Rs 2 lakh cr to boost the infrastructure in the state.
Your government has also recently completed 100 days plus and you are already being called as the infra man of Maharashtra, what’s your vision for the state?
Our government is pro people and pro development. Most importantly, it’s participatory and inclusive.
Let me give you an example, when we were acquiring land for the Samruddhi highway, we did that in a record time of one year. We managed to convince people despite the earlier reservations they had. As a minister that time, I signed as a witness to win people’s trust and in four hours we transferred money into their accounts.
I believe it is the duty of the government to build trust among people and we have managed to do it very well. A lot of people were saying that Samruddhi highway is not a practical project and it will not see the light of the day, we have proved them wrong with our people’s first approach. It’s my vision to see Maharashtra as one of the most developed states in the country in every aspect.
What is the government’s focus on the various redevelopment projects and to make Mumbai a slum free zone?
The Dharavi redevelopment project which was stalled has been resumed. Our mission is to make Mumbai a slum free city. We are also auditing the dilapidated buildings across Mumbai and facilitating their redevelopment. The pace of redevelopment will gain further momentum in the coming time.
What is your roadmap to make Maharashtra a trillion dollar economy?
It starts with the infrastructure and we are focused on it and there is no doubt about achieving this goal. We are well poised to make our state a trillion dollar economy. All the economic indicators point to it—the GDP of Maharashtra is already 15 per cent of the national GDP, FDI is 30 per cent, industrial production is 15 per cent of the national production, GST collection is 15 per cent export is 21 percent, Maharashtra’s employment generation capacity is 68 percent, the trillion dollar economy is not a distant reality now.