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Maharashtra govt scales down land acquisition for Dighi port project

In a major policy decision, the Maharashtra government has reduced land acquisition for the proposed industrial area at Dighi Port in Raigad district to 6460 hectare (ha) from the proposed 25,000 ha. 

The Dighi port area comes under the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) project. 

The decision has been taken in the face of widespread opposition to the land acquisition as well as concerns over the project’s viability. The state-run Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation, which is currently engaged in acquiring the land for the first phase of the project, has clarified that the acquisition is done through consent and not using any kind of pressure.

“Of the proposed acquisition of 25000 hectare, 12,140 hectare has been notified but in the first phase  6460 ha will be acquired … to make the project viable,” an MIDC official told Business Standard on condition of anonymity, but conceded that “…there have been objections raised by a section of villagers against the land acquisition”. 

The rate for the land is being fixed by negotiation considering ready reckoner and sale purchase transaction of last 3 years, this official said. The MIDC is offering Rs 46 lakh per hectare without 15% developed plot to the project affected person (PAP) or Rs 32.50 lakh per hectare with 15% developed plot, he added. 

The industrial area includes development of green field port, export-oriented industrial units/ SEZ, integrated logistics hub, integrated township, development of 3000 MW power plant, feeder road and rail links. The DMIC in Maharashtra covers Mumbai, Thane, Raigad, Nashik, Aurangabad, Ahmednagar, Pune, Dhule & Nandurbar districts and influences 18% of the total area of the state. As far as the Shendra-Bidkin Industrial Park near Aurangabad, which is also part of DMIC project, MIDC in the first phase has acquired 3200 hectare and taken possession. MIDC has offered compensation of Rs 56.81 lakh per hectare to PAPs.

MIDC was acquiring barren and waste lands and lands under perennial irrigation and gaothans were avoided, the official said. ”While determining the compensation, the market value of land is considered, and the compensation is determined by the agreement between the state government and PAP,” he said. “In most of the cases, land is acquired by obtaining consent while compulsory acquisition is a rate phenomenon.” 

The acquisition and disbursement of compensation has been carried out under the Maharashtra Industrial Development Act, he added.

Following the latest decision, Ulka Mahajan, convenor, Jagatikikaran Virodhi Kruti Samiti, an NGO that has taken up the cause of local villagers and farmers, said’ “It is a great achievement that due to the consistent protests by farmers the state government has scaled down Dighi Port industrial area considerably. 

“Neither the government nor MIDC were able to rationalise need for acquisition of such huge tract of land. We raised several issues during our agitation which never got answered,” she said, adding that the ongoing land acquisition should take place under the new Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. 

Mahajan alleged that the provisions of the said Act have not been applied in the present case.

However, the MIDC official pointed out that even though the new Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, was about to come in force, its relevant provisions of determining the compensation were considered. ”We are providing 15% developed land to the PAPs over and above the compensation as rehabilitation package,” he added.

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