While the state government claims most of the land needed to build the 710-km Mumbai-Nagpur Super Expressway is barren land, department data show as much as 84.13% of the total 20,820 hectares will be land used for agriculture.
This means the mega project could face major opposition, with gram panchayats passing resolutions to oppose the project.
While the state government has decided to adopt the Amravati (Andhra Pradesh) model of land pooling, which boasts of making farmers partners by giving them 25% of the developed land, farmers have started opposing the Rs31,427 crore project.
Of the total land which needs to be pooled, only 2,922 hectares, or 13.95%, is barren. Another 399 hectares (1.99%) is forest land.
“Only 8% of the land is irrigated land. It is true a major parcel in Marathwada and Nashik are agriculture land. But I do not think we will have a problem in getting the land from the farmers,” said Eknath Shinde, MSRDC minister.
Sensing potential resistance from farmers, the state had adopted the Amravati model, after studying four major projects across the country. The farmers, who would have got just four times the market rate, would get the 25% of the developed land back. The government claims the value of the developed land would be 100 times more than its compensation today.
Gram panchayats of 48 villages in Sinnar and Igatpuri tehsils have passed resolutions, copies of which have been sent to CM Devendra Fadnavis, to oppose the land acquisition claiming it will destroy the lives of the farmers.
“We already have given huge land parcels for Special Economic Zone and Mumbai-Delhi corridors passing through Nashik. The Gonde village in Sinnar alone will have to lose 987 hectares for the proposed e-way. The village has already lost its 350 hectares in two earlier projects. Most of the land is under cultivation. We will not give away the land come what may,” said Ravindra Pagar, Nashik district president of Nationalist Congress Party.
The project, termed ‘prosperity corridor’ for backward regions of Marathwada and Vidarbha, is proposed to be completed in the next three years.
“With the emerging resistance for the land acquisition, it will be unreasonable to expect the project to be completed within the time limit. While Fadnavis convened a meeting of all party MLAs representing the farmers affecting from the project last month, the building consensus seems to be difficult. In some cases the opposition is purely political,” said an official from the Public Works Department.