In the wake of stiff opposition from farmers in Raigad, the Maharashtra government has for the time-being decided to whittle down the Dighi port node of the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) to a fraction of its originally intended size, from 25,000 hectares to a mere 3,600 hectares.
The Dighi Port Industrial Area is one of the seven new industrial cities that would be created as part of Phase I of India’s largest industrial belt. The only other node in Maharashtra is the Shendra-Bidkin Industrial Park city in Aurangabad.
Raigad collector Sumant Bhange, whose office is in-charge of land acquisition, said that the department will acquire the proposed area in the district as long as it contiguous and landowners willingly come forward.
“The project will not be carried forward unless the local farmers want it. While the compensation package has been announced in keeping with the new Land Acquisition Act, irrespective of what any law says, not a single parcel of land will be forcibly acquired,” said Bhange.
The Maharashtra government’s latest clarification, coming in the run-up to the assembly polls, is a reaction to agitations by farmers and activists, which had led to Union Cabinet minister for heavy industries and local MP Anant Geete of the Shiv Sena and state minister Sunil Tatkare of the NCP to speak out against the project.
Of the proposed 25,000 hectares to be acquired in the three talukas of Mangaon, Roha and Tala in the district, the state had already notified 12,140 hectares of land. This had resulted in discontent among farmers who could not mortgage, sell or seek any agricultural subsidies on the notified land.
As per the new compensation package announced by the collector’s office on August 15, landowners will be paid Rs 18.40 lakh per acre of land. In case they choose to claim a stake in the form of 15 per cent developed land, the amount would be Rs 13 lakh per hectare. Bhange added that the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC), has allocated Rs 300 crore for acquiring 6300 hectares of land even though the land acquisition is being planned for only 3600 hectares as of now.
While the DMIC Development Corporation earlier gave in to the protests and agreed to scrap the Dighi port node, MIDC decided to scale it down instead.