The state government and the Centre probably underestimated an important aspect about the Konkan belt — land has become precious here. The Jaitapur power plant needs 938 acres of private land and the government has not been able to convince people to sell it willingly.
In the past few years, prices of land in the Konkan region have increased manifold. “Till three-four years ago, land in coastal areas near Ganpatipule was being sold for Rs2 lakh to Rs3 lakh per acre. Now the prices have gone up. If the plot has potential for a resort or a bungalow scheme, it could be anywhere in the range of Rs40-50 lakh an acre,” says Rajesh Patil, a real-estate developer.
Two developments drove land prices up here. Demand for land increased as the Konkan Railway became operational in 1996-97. Many investors from Mumbai-Pune realised its potential and started buying land at prime locations. Over the years, investors, including politicians, film actors, real-estate players and small investors bought land here. As agriculture was never a lucrative option for farmers in the coastal area, they sold it unhesitatingly for good prices. The second wave of land-buyers came as the state government started promoting private ports, industries and tourism in the region and recently decided to set up domestic airport at Parule-Chippi near Vengurla.
“Now the situation is such that the farmers do not want to sell land as they are hoping that the prices would further go up in coming days,” said Patil.
It explains why the landholders in Jaitapur area did not want to sell their land for the nuclear power project. The rate offered to them was much less than their expectations — Rs3 per square feet (or Rs1.30 lakh an acre). As the agitations intensified, they were promised that rate of Rs10 lakh per acre but the promoters of the project are yet to decide revised compensation package.
Analysts say the government should have understood the importance of land in the region. "There is now talk of increasing the compensation money but I doubt if people are in a mood to accept the offer. This would have worked in the initial stage…” said Kumar Kadam, an analyst.