The Shiv Sena on Monday hit out at Union minister Nitin Gadkari's remarks on the need to decongest Mumbai, saying if smart cities like Mumbai and Pune are created in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the population density of the country's financial capital will naturally come down.
An editorial in Sena mouthpiece "Saamana" claimed that nearly 1.50 lakh migrant labourers, who went to their native places during the lockdown, have returned to Maharashtra as they "do not have any work" back home.
Mumbai has been significantly contributing to the national treasury, but it has "not got the due share of financial assistance from the Centre" in the battle against COVID-19, it claimed.
Mr Gadkari last month said there is a need to decongest Mumbai as the densely populated city is facing "disastrous consequences", referring to the mounting coronavirus cases.
In response, the Sena on Monday said, "If you create smart cities like Mumbai and Pune in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the population density of Mumbai and Pune will come down naturally. Jobs should be created in those states first."
Mr Gadkaris concerns will automatically be addressed if those states create more and more infrastructure, the Marathi publication said.
"Nearly 1.50 lakh migrant labourers have returned to Maharashtra again during the lockdown period. They do not have any work in their native states. The reason behind it is that development has not reached those states, it said.
Some seven to eight lakh migrant workers went back from Mumbai to Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Odisha (during the lockdown), it noted.
"Nearly three lakh left from Pune and now they have started coming back. This is what is increasing the burden on Mumbai and Pune, the Uddhav Thackeray-led party said.
"It clearly indicates that hunger is prevailing over the coronavirus threat. People are willing to take the risk and are travelling in search of jobs, it said.
The Union government launched the "Smart City" mission in June 2015, but how much of it has actually materialised in so many years? the Sena asked.
"Mumbai has taken the burden of the countrys population and is significantly contributing to the national treasury, but it did not receive the due share of financial assistance from the Centre in the current fight against the COVID-19 pandemic," it said.