The Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO), under the ministry of housing and urban poverty alleviation (MoHUPA), has approved a loan facility of Rs 1768 crore for Maharashtra’s showpiece highways project — the Nagpur-Mumbai super communication expressway. The loan has been approved for Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), the nodal agency for executing the ambitious project, and is meant for land acquisition purposes.
Also called the Maharashtra Samruddhi Corridor, this is the first road project in the state that had proposed to “pool” land and get into a partnership with farmers, rather than acquire their land. However, due to a resistance to land pooling in certain pockets from farmers who said they preferred to sell their land instead, MSRDC is now looking at purchasing their land.
The 706-km long expressway requires 10,000 hectares for which MSRDC had received farmers’ consent for only about 30% of the land for pooling, and not in continuous stretches. Since this is not useful for the expressway, Kiran Kurundkar, Joint MD, MSRDC, told Fe that the corporation expects to have to pay out about Rs 5,000 crore to purchase the entire stretch. “We are targeting to raise and set aside this amount only for land acquisition since even the farmers who have given their consent for land pooling, could still change their minds,” Kurundkar said. “In most of the pockets, the feedback we have received is the farmers are interested in a one-time settlement and not in land pooling,” Kurundkar added.
According to the state government’s policy, negotiations are going on with farmers and the respective committees for land acquisition, at every district. “As per the state’s procedures, once they arrive at a price per hectare, they will communicate this to MSRDC and we will then start entering into a sale purchase agreement with individual land owners,” Kurundkar said.
Meanwhile, MSRDC has issued a request for qualification (RFQ) for the second time after modifying certain conditions in the document. The corporation received 32 applications after it first issued the RFQ for the project in January. However, it made a second call at the end of March. The new conditions stipulate that only profit-making companies can apply while companies that are under corporate debt restructuring (CDR) and /or strategic debt restructuring (SDR) are also disqualified. Moreover, the scope has also been widened to allow companies with experience in building not just roads, but also other infrastructure assets, to apply. Meanwhile, MSRDC has already completed the joint measurement survey to finalise the alignment of the expressway for about 650 km.
The construction of the 706-km Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway is expected to be undertaken in 16 packages at a total cost Rs 46,000 crore. SBI Capital Markets is arranging the funds and is believed to have approached a number of national as well as private sector banks.