Maharashtra to forcibly acquire farmers’ land for Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway
The project requires 8,636 hectares of land, including 7,290 hectares of private land; after June 25, the state will invoke the MHW Act and acquire land forcibly.mumbai Updated: Jun 14, 2018 10:44 IST
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ dream project — the Mumbai-Nagpur Super Communication Expressway — will soon turn into a nightmare for farmers who have refused to sell their land for the 701-km road.
The state government will invoke the Maharashtra Highways Act, to forcibly acquire the remainder land. Last week, it issued a notification for the compulsory acquisition.
The move is likely to enrage farmers and opposition parties who have hit out at the state government for ‘anti-farmer’ policies.
The project requires 8,636 hectares of land, including 7,290 hectares of private land. The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), the nodal agency for the project, is yet to take over 1,485 hectares of private land or almost 20%.
The government has given a June 25 deadline to the owners of the remainder land. After the deadline, the government will invoke section 18 of the MHW Act, to forcibly acquire land. After June 25, land owners will get less compensations — only two to four times the ready reckoner price compared to five times in the normal circumstances.
After acquiring the 20% private land, the state hopes to start construction as soon as possible.
“Of 8,636 hectares of land required, we have already acquired 7,145.21 hectares and only 1,485 hectares are yet to be acquired. Of the land to be acquired, 1,408 hectares could not be acquired owing to technical/legal reasons related to title disputes, ownership by religious trusts, forested land, etc. Once land is acquired by the government, we will compensate,” said Radheshyam Mopalwar, vice-chairman and managing director of MSRDC.
The state government recently amended the Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2013 by adding some provisions of the MHW Act in its schedule, to facilitate land acquisition for public projects.
Under the amended land acquisition Act, the government has managed to bypass the mandatory social impact assessment studies and dilute requirement of public consent. Though the land acquisition has been hassle-free in Vidarbha district, where it has crossed 85%, farmers in Nashik and Thane have been resisting the government’s move as large tracts of land here are irrigated.
Activists have warned that the compulsory acquisition would lead to outrage among farmers.
“There will be huge uproar among farmers if they try to forcibly acquire land. It has become a norm for this government to secretly issue notifications by keeping farmers in the dark. Secondly, the percentage of land acquired is misleading. We exposed the authorities with the help of RTI on their lies about percentage related to the acquisition for Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor,” said Ulka Mahajan, an activist fighting against land acquisition