Mumbai/Nagpur: Hundreds of farmers are vehemently opposing Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ dream project – the Mumbai-Nagpur Samruddhi Corridor – but the Maharashtra government is still claiming the project will improve the condition of farmers in the State. The government has also claimed that the project will connect Nagpur and Mumbai in a much better manner to boost the rural economy.
All this comes in the form of an affidavit filed by the government before a division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice Mahesh Sonak. The bench is seized with petitions filed by more than 90 farmers who have challenged the Samruddhi Corridor – the brainchild of the CM.
In its 15-page affidavit, the government has said, “Nagpur is the sub-capital of Maharashtra and central place of the country. There are no sufficient export facilities available for agriculture produce in this area. The travel time from Nagpur through the existing road transport is approximately 16 to 18 hours.”
“To boost up rural economy of drought prone areas and also agricultural and agro based industries, it is necessary to increase and improve the capacity of road transport through widespread and high standard road network. Considering all these aspects, it is decided to connect Mumbai and Nagpur for balanced and equitable development of the whole State, through hurdle free and access controlled transport corridor,” the affidavit reads.
This proposed corridor is of about 701 kilo meters and passes through nearly 10 districts. To construct this corridor, the government has decided to acquire the lands of the farmers while on the other hand, the farmers have opposed the entire idea. The government has claimed that majority of this corridor, which passes through 392 villages will run over “non-irrigated” areas. The government has also said that it is using “minimum” area to meet the international standards and is likely to shell out Rs. 46,000 crore for the construction of the project.
The government has also maintained that has followed the procedure by calling for suggestions and objections and that it is only after several deliberations, it decided to go ahead with the project.
The affidavit reads, “We decided not to implement the land pooling scheme since several land owners were unwilling to give up their land for the project. Then we constituted committees under the District Collectors to negotiate with the land owners and purchase the lands. This Committee was also formed to determine the compensation to be given to the land owners, wherein it has been decided (as per our January 2017policy) to give 25 per cent extra compensation on and above total compensation to be paid as per the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Act, 2013.”
The affidavit further urges the judges to dismiss the farmers’ petitions by imposing costs since the Samruddhi project is of public importance cannot be stalled. “No development is possible without some adverse effects but the projects of public utility cannot be abandoned,” the affidavit reads.