The Shiv Sena has said the proposed expressway between Mumbai and Nagpur — Samruddhi Corridor — will lead to a rise in farmer suicides in the state if the government forcibly takes away their irrigated land for the project. “The government machinery is being misused to build this expressway which has caused a severe law and order issue. Protesting farmers are being beaten up and threatened with imprisonment if they hinder government work. The only thing left now is to cut off the heads of the protesters,” the Sena said in an editorial in the party mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ today.
It has said that Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis wears a smiling mask on his face all the time, but his real face comes out when he sneers at farmers’ woes.
“Thousands of farmers have revolted against this project. They do not want to sell their mother (irrigated land) but if you are forcing them to do so, your intentions are wrong. Those who could not take revenge of our soldiers’ mutilation should not hurt farmers too,” it said, referring to the mutilation of a soldier’s body along the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir.
“Farmers are already committing suicide and the numbers will only increase due to this project. Does the government intend to make a Guinness World record in farmer suicides? You cannot lead farmers to the grave with your atrocious policies,” it added.
The Sena said that the Mumbai-Pune Expressway was a dream project of late Sena patriarch Bal Thackeray, and BJP leader Nitin Gadkari took it ahead. But at that time, farmers from Panvel to Pune didn’t protest against the project.
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“We have never objected to development. But it should not come at the cost of farmers’ lives. Had we been opposed to development, we would not have created scores of roads and flyovers in Mumbai. Development is the need of the hour but farmer suicides have to be stopped first. Their loan should be waived,” it said.
The 702-km expressway will pass through Nagpur, Buldhana, Amravati, Wardha, Washim, Thane, Aurangabad, Akola, Bhiwandi and Nashik districts and will cut down the travel time between Nagpur and Mumbai by half.
Farmers in Sinnar and Igatpuri tehsils of Nashik district, besides those in Shahpur and Kalyan tehsils of Thane district, are up in arms against the expressway passing through their farmlands. They have blocked roads several times and held rallies against the project, fearing forcible acquisition of their land by the government.