Maha to forcibly acquire farmers’ land for Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway

Mumbai : Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), a nodal authority for Mumbai-Nagpur Super Communication Expressway are likely to invoke the Maharashtra Highways Act, to forcibly acquire the remainder land for the purpose which is also a dream project of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

The project requires 8,636 hectares of land, including 7,290 hectares of private land. The MSRDC, the nodal agency, is yet to take over 1,485 hectares of private land or almost 20%. The state government Last week, issued a notification for the compulsory acquisition.

Earlier, MSRDC had proposed to relax the rules related to land acquisition as it was facing a strong opposition from the farmers over land for the proposed expressway, which lead to delay in the project.

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.

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.

The move is likely to enrage farmers and opposition parties who have hit out at the state government for ‘anti-farmer’ policies.

“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