In the wake of controversy over the development of the Lavasa hill city and rehabilitation of the affected people, the Maharashtra government plans to amend its existing policy on project development and rehabilitation.
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan announced in the state legislature that the development of any project would be possible only after all necessary clearances and rehabilitation of the affected people were made. His announcement is expected to have a far-reaching impact on infrastructure, industrial and special economic zone (SEZ) projects in the state, either in various stages of implementation or being planned.
A senior government official, who did not want to be quoted, told Business Standard, “Over 50 power projects are proposed in the Konkan and Vidarbha regions, while a large number of irrigation projects are being planned across the state. Besides, developers of 143 SEZs would also have to strictly implement rehabilitation. Currently, of the 143 SEZs, 63 are already notified.” However, he added that the government and the project developers would have to be quite careful and vigilant in implementing rehabilitation as there have been several complaints about non-fulfilment of promises made in the past.
Chavan’s announcement comes at a time when people affected by the proposed 10,000-Mw nuclear power project at Jaitapur in the state are opposing it for being environmentally dangerous. At the same time, a section of the villagers were pressing for higher price for land based on market rates and increase in the compensation in the rehabilitation package. Similar protests are visible in the coal-rich Vidarbha region where many developers are lining up.
Besides, people from 17 villages to be affected due to the development of the Navi Mumbai airport have also reiterated that rehabilitation should happen before the development of the project. The state-run City and Industrial Development Corporation, the nodal agency for developing the proposed airport, has worked out a resettlement and rehabilitation package worth Rs 350 crore. However, villagers have demanded more compensation.