The Maharashtra government is likely to adopt Andhra Pradesh’s “Amaravati” land pooling model for the ambitious Nagpur-Mumbai Supercom-munication Expressway. The Rs 30,000 crore, eight-lane superway will require 9,000 acres of land.
Highly placed sources in the government revealed, “A team of senior officials are looking at the land pooling model, which was a success in newly created Amaravati, the capital of Andhra Pradesh following bifurcation of the state that led to creation of a separate Telangana.”
Although the two projects cannot be exactly compared, the process of land pooling from farmers can be a model which would have identical features. While in case of AP it was carving out a new state capital, the Maharashtra project entails construction of an expressway. But the common feature where the model works relates to process of land pooling to make farmers voluntarily give their land in lieu of stakeholding and developed plots.
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A senior secretary told The Indian Express, “The 690 km stretch between Nagpur and Mumbai will be dotted with 25 nodes. In lieu of land acquired from farmers, the government will ensure completely developed land is provided to farmers in these nodes in close proximity to their villages. The farmers would be made the stakeholders.”
The handing over of developed land rights would ensure a sustained income to farmers. The Nagpur-Mumbai project aims at developing 20 districts specially in drought and suicide prone districts of Vidarbha and Marathwada. It will also lead to development of four metros and bring greater agro-industrial development.
The officials said, “The land pooling has its own advantages, as landowners (farmers) would voluntarily sign the ownership rights with a single agency or government authority for the project. The agency develops the land by constructing all infrastructure, which essentially includes concrete roads, sewage lines, electricity connection, water supply among other basic amenities. After completing the infrastructure, it returns portion of land to the original owner. The proportion of developed land to be handed over would be calculated in accordance to acquisition from individual.”
The farmers or individuals gain from the developed plot of land, as after creation of infrastructure and basic amenities the price of the plot automatically multiplies. It matches the market value, sources revealed.
The land pooling model being considered by centre and several states for all mega projects, differs from the process of land acquisition. Often, in land acquisition, which was always pursued, the authorities often pay four times the registered value of the land.
Now, this works to farmers’ disadvantage as the market value or inflation is not factored while determining overall cost. The low price often leads to owners being reluctant to part with their piece of land. In the past, successive governments had to forcibly acquire land for public welfare projects.