Eye on polls, Maha largesse of Rs 59K cr to Marathwada region

Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar:- Promising to transform the backward Marathwada into a ‘drought-free’ region ahead of the upcoming elections, the Maharashtra government on Saturday gifted a special economic package of over Rs 59,000-crore for various developmental projects, irrigation and other works.

The shower of announcements came after the full state Cabinet presided over by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde met here first time after October 2016, amidst over a dozen protests or processions carried out by various groups including Shiv Sena (UBT), All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen, Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi, Dhangars, OBCs and others. 

The day started with Shinde and the two Deputy CMs Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar participating in a ceremony to unveil plaques changing officially the name of ‘Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar’ (Aurangabad) and ‘Dharashiv’ (Osmanabad), effected earlier this year.

Speaking to the media, Shinde, Fadnavis, Pawar announced the decisions related to the package for the eight districts — Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar, Dharashiv, Beed, Latur, Jalna, Parbhani, Hingoli and Nanded — all in the Marathwada region. 

They slammed the erstwhile Maha Vikas Aghadi government of former CM Uddhav Thackeray for ‘ignoring’ the development of Marathwada, with many projects languishing or not taking off, including the Parli-Beed-Ahmednagar railway line for non-payment of the state component of the link.

“After our government came to power, we have cleared the dues and now the work has resumed on this line,” said Fadnavis, adding that Thackeray also systematically killed the much-touted ‘Marathwada Water Grid’ project by starving it of funds. 

Pawar stressed on the development of various religious tourism sites including the Tulja Bhavani Temple and other places of worship which would be sanctioned funds for improvement of facilities for tourists and pilgrims. 

Shinde also met AIMIM MP Imtiaz Jaleel to discuss the issue of the Adarsh Cooperative Credit Society scam in which thousands have been duped of crores of rupees of their hard-earned money. 

Jaleel led a huge procession near the Cabinet briefing venue and Shinde assured that the government will take over the assets of the scam-hit organisation and liquidate them to repay the customers’ dues. 

Among the highlights of the dole are erecting a statue in New Delhi to honour Swami Ramanand Tirtha, ex-MP, who led the struggle for the liberation of Marathwada from the Hyderabad Nizam rule, 75 years ago. 

The government has launched ambitious plans to make Marathwada ‘drought-free’ by diverting water from the state rivers to the Godavari Basin in a project costing over Rs 14,040-crore and irrigating over 8 lakh hectares of land in the region. 

The other projects include renovation of Sant Dnyaneshwar Park in Paithan, a high-level dam in Shanidevgaon in Vaijapur for irrigation.

Some of the religious sites to be revamped in the region are — Grishneshwar Temple, Tulja Bhavani Temple, Aundha Nagnath temple, Shri Udagir Baba’s Samadhi, Murdeshwar Temple, Saibaba Temple in Pathri which was the birthplace of the revered saint whose samadhi temple is in Shirdi, Nashik. 

The other projects schemes concern the women and child development with 3,439 Aanganwadi to be built, a sports university and an international stadium, sports complexes in several districts, school and higher education-related initiatives, tourism including a Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Theme Park, and renovating of various monuments. 

The Beed Collectorate will get a new building, new MIDCs will come up in four places, improvement of 300 km of roads, Nanded will get a riverfront on the Godavari River on the lines of the Sabarmati Ghat in Ahmedabad, 75 Gram Panchayats to get independent offices, Beed Zilla Parishad new building, 18 Nizam-era police stations to become modern, improving bus stations with 1,197 electric vehicles to be deployed in different cities, dams, hospitals, etc. 

The region will get funds for augmenting basic civic amenities in different municipal councils/Nagar Panchayats and Municipal Corporations, water supply projects, sewerage schemes, lake rejuvenation initiatives, 432 Gram Panchayats to be linked to BharatNet in a year, a museum on the Marathwada Liberation Struggles, digging wells under the EGS, and a slew of projects for the farming sector.