Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray today urged farmers to bring to his notice their grievances about Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s ambitious Samruddhi expressway project. The project, the brainchild of Fadnavis government, promises to transform the economy of drought prone regions of Vidarbha and Marathwada by connecting Mumbai to Nagpur. Thackeray also dismissed as false media reports stating that Sena is divided over the project and that party minister Eknath Shinde is approaching farmers and negotiating with them to sell their land to Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) for the project.
“The Sena wants development but not at the cost of farmers. I have myself spoken to chief minister Fadnavis and told him that he will have to compromise on certain areas of the expressway to meet farmers demands or finishing the project will be difficult,” Thackeray told reporters here. “I want farmers to bring to our notice if they are being forced to part with their fertile lands or have not been given adequate compensation. We will ensure their demands are met,” he said. Thackeray said there are two areas of concern for the farmers — they having to part with their fertile land and compensation. “We have been engaging in a dialogue with farmers and will see that development does not happen at the cost of ruining the farmers,” he said.
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“There have been false reports in the media that my stand and my party minister’s stand over the issue are different and that Eknath Shinde is acquiring lands of farmers against my wishes. But being a minister, he is a staunch Sainik,” Thackeray said. Thackeray said that he had instructed Shinde to visit project affected villages, meet farmers and understand their grievances and hand over their lands for the corridor only if they are satisfied with every aspect of the government’s decision. Meanwhile, Thackeray said NDA presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind had called him to express his gratitude for the Sena’s support for his candidature.