The Maharashtra Cabinet on Wednesday approved the renaming of two significant infrastructure projects in Mumbai after Hindutva demagogue Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
The Versova-Bandra Sea Link will now be named “Veer Savarkar Setu’. While the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL) will be renamed as “Atal Bihari Vajpayee Smruti Shivdi Nhava Sheva Atal Setu.”
The upcoming 17-km sea link will connect Andheri to the Bandra-Worli Sea Link as part of the coastal road, and the MTHL, which is expected to be completed by December, will connect Mumbai to Navi Mumbai.
On May 28, the 140th birth anniversary of Savarkar, Mr. Shinde announced his government’s decision to name Versova-Bandra Sea Link and MTHL. After the announcement, the Opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi criticised the Shinde-Fadnavis government, accusing them of renaming locations and initiatives as a distraction tactic from pressing concerns.
The renaming of these two megaprojects is one instance of several decisions made by the current dispensation during its first year in power. Recently, the State government announced its decision to rename Ahmednagar district as Ahilya Nagar, after the 18th-century warrior queen Ahilya Devi Holkar. In February, it renamed Aurangabad as Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar and Osmanabad as Dharashiv. All three districts were earlier named after Muslim rulers. As the Parliament and Assembly elections are scheduled for next year, the renaming spree is being perceived as a strategic move by the Shiv Sena-BJP government aligned with their Hindutva agenda.
The Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, and co-chaired by his deputy Devendra Fadnavis also approved the construction of a grand memorial for the Marathwada Liberation Struggle in Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar (formerly Aurangabad), with a budget of Rs. 100 crore. It approved a total of 31 decisions, including supplying free school uniforms to children of economically weaker parents which will benefit 12 lakh students, setting up a government agriculture university in Buldhana, nine new government universities with a budget of Rs. 4,365 crore, upgradation of engineering colleges in the State as centres of excellence and constitution of a board for the welfare of unorganised workers.
“We have also taken a big decision to increase the limit of Mahatma Jyotirao Phule Jan Arogya Yojana from Rs. 2 lakh to Rs. 5 lakh and it will be given to all 12.5 crore citizens of Maharashtra, and not restricted to pink and yellow ration card holder,” Mr. Shinde said, adding that the Cabinet also approved the investments worth Rs. 40,000 crore which will create employment for 1.20 lakh people.