Aurangabad, Feb 16: Public Works Department (PWD) minister Ashok Chavan said that he saw no difficulty in Congress nominee becoming Speaker of the Maharashtra legislative assembly.
The veteran Congress leader was interacting with the senior editorial staff of Lokmat Group during his visit to Lokmat Bhavan today. Lokmat Media Editor-in-Chief Rajendra Darda welcomed him.
The Speaker’s election has been necessitated after resignation of former Speaker Nana Patole. Chavan said, “When the three parties formed the government, the post of the Speaker went to Congress during the adjustment. Now, the new Speaker will be chosen by voting. So, three parties will be coming together and reach an understanding. The timetable of the elections is likely to be declared during assembly session. I am sure, a Congress nominee will become Speaker through popular choice.”
He asserted that Congress was an important part of the government and without the party the government itself could not have been formed.
Nanded connection of Samruddhi Mahamarg
When asked why Nanded was suddenly added in the Samruddhi Mahamarg project Chavan said, “The previous government neglected road development in Marathwada. It’s good thing that Nagpur-Mumbai Samruddhi Mahamarg project was taken up, Mumbai-Pune Expressway made and roadworks were taken up in Konkan and Mumbai. However, Marathwada figured anywhere. Through my department I am trying to do justice to Marathwada.”
Chavan said, “From Jalna, Samruddhi Mahamarg proceeds to Vidarbha. If it is connected to Nanded, districts like Parbhani falling on the way will also be connected to the Mahamarg. Currently, Aurangabad- Nanded travelling distance is nearly four and half hours and can be brought down to three hours. Nanded-Mumbai travel time will reduce to 5 to 6 hours. This good road connectivity will enhance industrial development.”
Rs 9000-cr to be spent on Jalna-Nanded leg
The minister told the editorial team that around Rs 9000 crore will be spent on Jalna-Nanded leg. This includes a Rs 1000-crore bridge that will be diverting traffic out of Nanded, connecting it to Samruddhi Mahamarg. Linkages will also be provided to Hingoli, Parbhani, Vasmat and other towns. Avenues like asset monetisation and public-private partnership will be explored for raising resources.
Aurangabad-Bidkin road issue
Aurangabad was included in the ambitious Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) project when Ashok Chavan was the chief minister and Rajendra Darda was industries minister. However, due to bad condition of 22 kms of Aurangabad-Bidkin road, it is becoming difficult to attract industries to Bidkin. When Chavan’s attention was drawn to this, he said, “Many works, including Bidkin road, taken up by the central government through National Highway Authority of India or MSRDC have not yet gathered momentum. We have held review meetings with union road transport minister Nitin Gadkari. The roadworks in Marathwada have been basically hit because of wrong choice of contractors. I am seized of Bidkin road issue and will extend all help to speed it up.”
Chavan claimed that the present union government had nothing novel to offer in the recent budget. “The government has never looked positively at the issues of Marathwada and paid more attention to Gujarat. Railway connectivity of the region has been remained neglected. Whatever works have been done were during the reign of Congress. The union government should be helpful for railway network development in Marathwada, particularly when the railway minister is from Maharashtra. However, this is not happening.”
Khalistani terror suspect arrest at Nanded
Replying to a question related to the arrest of a Khalistani terrorist suspect from Nanded recently, Chavan said, “Nanded police have always been alert and conduct surveillance in the town. Punjab police also come to Nanded. This is a sensitive issue. After a long time, suddenly one person has been arrested. We need to increase surveillance again.”
He said, every honest Congressman wants to see Congress become number one again. New Congress president Nana Patole has vowed to work for this. We have good network in Maharashtra but need to identify our weak points and with combination of the old and new, strengthen the party.