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40% of land required for key public projects in Maharashtra purchased by investors: CM Fadnavis

Private investors purchased the land years before the project was notified, said CM Fadnavis

mumbai Updated: Dec 19, 2017 20:56 IST
Surendra P Gangan
Surendra P Gangan
Hindustan Times
Maharashtra chief minister(HT File)

Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis admitted the involvement of land dealers and private investors in land acquisition of key projects such as the Samruddhi corridor and the petroleum refinery in Ratnagiri. He said that 40% of the land required for the refinery project proposed in Ratnagiri has been purchased by investors.

The refinery, a joint venture of three state oil companies, with a proposed investment of Rs 2.5 lakh crore, needs 6,018 hectares of land in Ratnagiri. The locals have been opposing the project, alleging that it would disturb the biodiversity of the area, and lead to displacement of villages. The government has begun the process of land acquisition, which, with the help of Shiv Sena, is being opposed by the locals.

Though the government has offered Rs22.50 lakh a hectare as compensation for the land to be acquired, farmers have been demanding that the compensation be hiked to Rs1 crore. The locals alleged that tracks of land was purchased by land dealers and investors for paltry prices from the farmers, just ahead of the announcement of the project.

“It is true that 40% of the land notified for the refinery project has been purchased by investors. They purchased the land years before the project was notified. They usually purchase land parcels at cheaper rates from farmers, who sell it in fear of losing their lands once the acquisition notice is issued. Even in case of the Samruddhi corridor, the people who had been opposing the project have become agents of the farmers. The activists who had accompanied Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray in agitation against Samruddhi, are actively involved in land dealings,” Fadnavis said during interaction with the media on Tuesday morning.

Fadnavis also revealed that two Shiv Sena MPs were in the race to take the project to their respective constituencies. “Sena MP and Union minister for heavy industries, Anant Gite, wanted the refinery to come up in Raigad, while Vinayak Raut wanted it to be set up in Ratnagiri. The oil companies found the Ratnagiri location suitable for the project. Even the Andhra Pradesh government was keen in implementing the project. If it is taken away by any other state, it will be really unfortunate for Maharashtra. The project will generate direct employment for one lakh locals and change the fortunes of the region,” he said.

Shiv Sena has been openly opposing the project. Sena MLA Rajan Salvi and environment minister Ramdas Kadam had recently met Fadnavis, demanding cancellation of the project. The CM’s statement has brought the split among Sena leadership over the project to the fore.

First Published: Dec 19, 2017 20:56 IST