The Devendra Fadnavis government’s showcase project, the 744-km Mumbai-Nagpur communication expressway spanning across 20 districts, including 14 districts from backward Vidarbha and Marathwada region, will offer farmers, who offer their land for the highway, nearly 22.5-25% of the developed land as compensation, making them permanent stakeholders of the Rs30,000 crore project.
The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), the nodal agency implementing the project, is in the process of finalising this proposal that will overcome the main hurdle of acquiring nearly 10,000 hectares of farm land for the ambitious project.
The farmers, who will pool their land, will be offered the developed land in nearly 24 townships, which will come at all interchanges across the expressway.
This is the first time that land pooling will be used for an expressway project in the state.
The proposal is likely to come up before the cabinet in the next two weeks.
“The farmers will be offered developed land in nearly 24 townships that we have planned across this expressway. The townships will be built at interchanges so that villages in every district that the expressway connects are at the most 20km away from the highway,’’ said a senior MSRDC official.
MSRDC officials have informed the state government that nearly 70% of the farmers are open to this land deal.
The 24 townships have been planned as agro-based cities, which will house processing plants, cold storage facilities that will offer farmers in the hinterland access to competitive markets as well as the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT).
At least one-fourth of each of these cities will be populated by land owners and farmers, claim officials.
The communication expressway, which is being seen as a game changer in the Fadnavis government, will reduce the distance between Mumbai–Nagpur by half from 16 hours to 8 hours, while Aurangabad, Marathwada’s most industrialised city, will be only 4 hours away from Mumbai.
More importantly, it will offer distressed farmers in suicide-prone districts of the state, a way out of the current crisis.
The state government studied the Andhra Pradesh government’s experiment to build the new capital city, Amaravati, as well as the City and Industrial Development Corporation’s success with the Navi Mumbai airport, before finalising the land pooling formula for acquisition. In the case of Amravati, the AP government is learnt to have acquired nearly 33,000 acres of the 35,000 acres of the project through similar land pooling.
The eight-lane highway will have an optical fibre network going through the alignment and will house technology parks, textile hubs, education complexes and agro cities along the way.
The project that is being tracked as a numero uno project by the chief minister’s war room has been split into five stretches. The work on the project is likely to take off by the end of this year and Fadnavis has given directives that at least one of the stretches should be completed ahead of the 2019 elections.