After farmers resisted the option to pool their land for the ambitious Mumbai Nagpur Super Expressway, the state government has decided to allow the acquisition of the land under the Land Acquisition Act, 2013. Acquiring land under the act, which states that farmers must be paid three to four times the ready reckoner rate, will cost the government about Rs10,000 crore. The cash-strapped government is now mulling the idea of raising a loan of Rs4,000 crore from four state corporations. The rest will be raised by the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), the nodal agency implementing the project.
The 710-km expressway, which is also called the prosperity expressway, needs about 20,820 hectares of land. Of this, 84.13% is agricultural land. In most districts, farmers have opposed the land pooling scheme, which offers Rs30,000 to Rs60,000 an acre a year as compensation for 10 years, with an annual increase of 10% every year. The farmers will also be entitled to 25 to 30% of the developed land along the corridor.
However, farmers have opposed this, demanding a lump sum as immediate compensation under the Land Acquisition Act, stating that they do not want to be kept waiting for 10 years.
During a recent review meeting, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis directed the public works department to implement a mixed model, in which land will either be pooled or acquired under the act.
Those present at the meeting told the CM was apprised that 40% of the farmer consented to land pooling and their land was being measured. However, sources said the land of farmers who haven’t consented is also being measured.
“Most of the farmers in Shahapur are willing to give up their land under the Land Acquisition Act, which entitles farmers to immediate compensation. The act clearly outlines the rules of acquisition and has a fair compensation rate, unlike the land pooling scheme. Our past experiences with land acquisition have shown us that the officials are untrustworth. Hundreds of people affected by the Koyna dam were rehabilitated in Shahapur. They have been waiting for the transfer of their rightful land for the past 43 years,” said Vinayak Pawar, president, Shetkari Sangharsh Samiti. He said about 3,500 farmers, who collectively own 6,000 acres, were served land acquisition notices.
Tukaram Bhasme, officer bearer, Maharashtra Kisan Sabha, which has fighting for the cause of farmers in Vidarbha said, “Farmers are against giving away their land even under the Land Acquisition Act. We think the project is unnecessary as we have a national and state highway connecting Mumbai and Nagpur. The proposed corridor will run parallel to them.”
According to an MSRDC officer, all the district collectors and divisional commissioners have been directed to adhere to the 2015 policy of acquisition through negotiations. This will give farmers 10% over and above the price fixed under the Land Acquisition Act.
The MSRDC is set to take loans of Rs1000 each from the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC), City and Industrial Development Corporation of Maharashtra (CIDCO), Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA)and Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA).
“We asked farmers to choose either option. We will need Rs10,000 crore,of which we will take loans of Rs4,000 from four state agencies. There has not yet been a decision on fund-raising by the MSRDC,” MSRDC minister Eknath Shinde told HT.
The government plans to acquire all the land it needs by the end of monsoon and start the actual construction by October 2017. The government wants construction to be completed before the 2019 assembly elections.