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Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway: State pays farmers up to ₹5 crore for land to get project going

Government agencies have paid the state’s highest ever compensation to acquire land — an average of ₹87 lakh a hectare, up to five times the market rate.

mumbai Updated: Jun 21, 2018 10:49 IST
Surendra P Gangan
Surendra P Gangan
Hindustan Times
Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway,Maharashtra,Farmers compensation
Around 81% of the 7,291 hectares of private land has been acquired, officials said. (HT File Photo)

As farmers’ opposition to its ambitious Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway project increases, the Devendra Fadnavis government in Maharashtra is pulling out all the stops to bring it back on track before the elections next year.

Government agencies have paid the state’s highest ever compensation to acquire land in the belt — an average of ₹87 lakh a hectare, and in most cases up to five times the going market rate.

And, to cover the cost, the cash-strapped government has been borrowing funds from its undertakings. So far, ₹5,500 crore has been taken from the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (Mhada), the City and Industrial Development Corporation (Cidco), Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) and the Maharashtra Industries Development Corporation (MIDC).

In the more urban districts such as Thane, Nashik and Nagpur, the average was far higher, at ₹1.63 crore a hectare.

The highest paid individual compensation was ₹5.17 crore a hectare for land in Thane’s Khardi village, in the Shahapur taluka.

This is more than the compensation paid for the Mumbai-Goa highway, which had gone up to ₹1 crore a hectare, one of the highest in recent times.

The high rates helped the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) — the nodal agency responsible for implementing the Mumbai-Nagpur Super Communication e-way (as the project is called) — reduce resistance to land acquisition.

The agency said it has acquired 81.01% of the 7,291 hectares of private land it needs across the 10 districts the expressway will run through.

Thane and Nashik had registered the lowest land acquisition at 71.90% and 72.66%, as the resistance there was higher owing to the urbanisation, and greater percentage of land under irrigation.

“We have been paying the highest rate ever for land acquisition in the state. The rates finalised by the respective collectors have been done in a transparent manner, which has been the hallmark of the process. We are getting overwhelming response from the farmers for the acquisition due to the rates and transparency,” said Radheshyam Mopalwar, vice-chairman and managing director, MSRDC.

The state has recently issued a notification under section 15 of the Maharashtra Highways Act, under which it has begun the process to acquire the remaining land. This gives government the power to avoid the social impact assessment studies, and rehabilitation of project affected people. It will also help expedite the land acquisition in the Shahapur tehsil in Thane district, where the land is either irrigated or has higher rates.

“Khardi in Shahapur has fetched the highest rate of ₹5.17 crore a hectare. Of the six hectares, we have acquired two hectares, as most of the remaining is non-agricultural land with higher rates. Land in villages like Birwadi and Dalkhan cost us ₹3 crore a hectare,” said Revati Gaikar, deputy collector, Thane.

The amount paid to farmers who were against the acquisition is five times the average market rate of the past three years. The compensation is double if the land is an all-season irrigated one, and one-and-a-half times if it is semi-irrigated.

In the Nashik district, land in a few villages near Igatpuri fetched a rate of more than ₹1.50 crore a hectare against the market rate of ₹16 lakh a hectare.

Activists opposing the project admit the initial resistance by farmers has reduced because of the handsome compensation. “It is true the farmers are getting much more than the market price, and this has been the reason for reduced opposition to the project. In the backward areas of Vidarbha and Marathwada, farmers tend to compare the compensation with the paltry income they get from farming itself, and sell their land,” said Tukaram Bhasme of Maharashtra Kisan Sabha, a farmer leader in Amravati.

The activists, however, alleged manipulation by MSRDC officials. Baban Harne of Maharashtra Shetkari Sangharsh Samiti leading the opposition in Shahapur said the market rates ascertained by officials were less than the existing rates. Bhasme said the officials were hand-in-glove with agents in manipulation and extracting money in the name of acquisition. The land owners who parted with land for Navi Mumbai International Airport will be given 22.5% developed land the FSI of 2, besides their rehabilitation and job opportunities.

First Published: Jun 21, 2018 10:49 IST