Dr Pramod Sawant requests the central government for funds

To carry out four major projects, that is the exposition of St Francis Xavier’s sacred relics, increasing inter-city connectivity and construction of minor dams and smart water utility, Chief Minister Dr Pramod Sawant has requested  Nirmala Sitharaman the finance minister to provide funds worth Rs 8,700 crore to the state of Goa.

Dr Sawant while speaking at the pre-union budget meeting about the exposition of St Francis Xavier’s sacred relics said “The State government has to make all the preparations for infrastructure creation for the smooth conduct of this global event.” In his opinion the last exposition in 2014 attracted 60 lakh pilgrims from not just across the country but across the world. He believes that this time the amount of expected pilgrims are much larger than that of 2014 and the state government will require extra funds for the infrastructure involved in conducting such a global event.

Dr Sawant also stated that the Konkan Railway (KR) route is an essential route that facilitates smooth mobility between ports on the western coast from Mangaluru to Mumbai. However, only a minor part of it has double tracking due to lack of funds. Dr Sawant suggested that the centre should provide the adequate funds required for the double tracking, that will be beneficial for Goa as well due to the availability of a rail network for inter-city connectivity. He said “Currently, land is a scarce entity in Goa, and in the future, the widening of roads will be really difficult. Hence, I request you to provide Rs 5,000 crore to Konkan Railway for this inter-city connectivity project in Goa.”

Dr Sawant also mentioned in the meeting that the 15th Finance Commission has suggested that the centre should provide Goa with 500 crores to combat climate change through the development of renewable energy and 200 crores for the development of Goa’s tourism industry. He requested the centre to provide the state with these funds at the earliest and argued that since Goa performed excellently under the scheme for special assistance to states for investments, the grant should be increased to 1000 crores.

The state is also facing issues regarding the excessive demand of water due to the negative impact of the recent rapidly growing development activities. To combat this problem the state will require funds to harvest water resources by creating additional water storage units and improving conditions of currently existing storage units. The solution to the problem also entails building small damns and improving water holding capacity of currently prevailing damns in the state. It must also focus on improving the projects that aim to prevent anti-sea erosion, ensure flood control and improve irrigation processes. Therefore he requested the centre to provide the state with assistance of Rs 700 crore.

The replacement of the old pipelines in the state must be done in a structured manner and is a part of the ‘smart utility’ initiative, for this Dr Sawant believes that the centre must grant the state Rs 1000 crore to ensure a smooth transition. He also stated that the RBI has a redemption fund of Rs 431 crore and the loan amount against the guarantees is Rs 297 crore which has decreased by a large amount due to the pre-payments made by the state over time. Thus he stated that the RBI corpus should be 5% of the extended guarantees, and withdrawals can only be done while invoking guarantees. Dr Sawant said “As the contribution in the fund is more than the loan amount, a policy decision needs to be taken to allow withdrawal of this excess amount or to transfer this excess amount to the consolidated sinking fund maintained by RBI.”

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