Activists allege 15,000 families will lose land to project along Delhi-Mumbai route

For the multi-billion dollar Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor project, land acquisition is becoming a major hurdle. After facing resistance in Rajasthan, the project is now being opposed by farmers in Maharashtra.

The corridor is a mega project, requiring an investment of $95 billion. The Japanese Government has promised financial and technical help for the 1,480-km corridor that will link the political capital with the business capital with a high-speed rail and industrial corridor.

Starting Wednesday (April 10), around 1,000 farmers from Mangaon in Raigad district have decided to hold an indefinite ‘dharna’ at the local sub-division office against the acquisition of 67,500 acres from 78 villages in that area.

Leading civil rights activist Ulka Mahajan is leading the farmers against the DMIC project. Mahajan is a veteran of many protests, and was also responsible for the cancellation of the Mukesh Ambani-promoted 10,000-hectare Maha Mumbai Special Economic Zone.

Hurried move

Mahajan told Business Line that the State Government, under the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) Act, has issued land acquisition notices to about 15,000 families “which will destroy them and make them 100 per cent landless. The notice effectively ensures that farmers cannot buy or sell land to a third party. They can only sell the land to MIDC,” she said.

MIDC is the lead project manager for the DMIC project.

“I find similarities in the land acquisition process for MIDC and Maha Mumbai SEZ. The SEZ developers never explained to the farmers the exact reason for acquiring such a huge tract of land. Same is the case with MIDC,” Mahajan said.

She alleged that though the MIDC has asked for a no-objection certificate from the panchayat members, the land acquisition was being done very hurriedly.

Allegations

Further alleging that the State Government officials were resorting to the MIDC Act for acquiring the land, and that they were not waiting for the new land acquisition Bill to the passed by Parliament, Mahajan said the detailed project report and environment impact analysis was not shared with farmers.

Amitabh Kant, CEO and Managing Director, Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation Ltd denied that land acquisition was being done using the MIDC land acquisition Act. He told Business Line that in most cases, land was being bought through negotiations.

Bhushan Gagrani, CEO of MIDC, said that initial measurement of land and meeting with villagers was underway. In the first phase, 5,000 acres from less than 12 villages would be acquired. “I am aware that our acquisition process will face some amount of opposition, but we will still try to convince the people,” he said.

rahul.wadke@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on April 8, 2013)
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