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Prithviraj Chavan talks about his plans for Maharashtra, Mumbai at WEF summit

Anand Adhikari     November 14, 2011
"Do you plan to shadow Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi to Beijing," asked a foreign journalist and Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan's response was quick: "I plan to go to Davos." 

Davos may have been at the top of the mind for the 65-year old Chavan, who was at the venue of the World Economic Forum to address select journalists in Mumbai on Monday.

"The per captia GDP in Gujarat is much lower than Maharashtra. It is a much smaller state," he started to roll out the hard numbers before Gujarat cropped up again in the discussions, with references to Maruti and Ford investing in the state.

The job at hand for the chief minister of the country's second-largest state is certainly challenging as other states are also moving up in terms of governance and introducing innovative solutions to reach out to its people.

Take for example Bihar, the first state to experiment with direct cash transfer it distributed money to girl students for buying bicycles.    

A year in office, Chavan knows the high expectations of his 110 million people. "We have grown at little over 9 per cent for the last four years. We are now aiming at double-digit growth," he said, dressed in corporate attire. The state, as big as Mexico in terms of population,  plans to create  many more industrial towns in Nashik, Aurangabad, Satara, Nanded and Nagpur.

"We will create more magnets in the future," said Chavan, who runs a coalition government with Sharad Pawar's NCP.  

Can India's growth take care of its ills?

While neighbouring Gujarat is riding high on the Mundra Port, Chavan plans to develop new ports as Mumbai's two ports are getting saturated. "We are also developing Mumbai, Nashik and Pune as a golden triangle. This belt will attract high-tech industry," said Chavan.

The chief minister is also eyeing big opportunities for setting up new units on the Delhi-Mumbai freight corridor.   

Chavan is also faced with an acute shortage of land, especially in Mumbai. He is against reclaiming land from the sea. "We have asked for a special permission to build (only) coastal roads," he said.

The idea is to build a sea link across the harbour in Navi Mumbai. This will open up the vast hinterland.

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