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For the first time in India, spot payment was made for acquired land with the Maharashtra government transferring money electronically to the farmers whose lands were taken for the Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway.
In the past two days, the state government acquired land from farmers in Nagpur and Thane districts for which the agreements were signed and registered and payments made through Real Time Gross Settlement direct into the farmers' bank accounts.
"Yes. This is the first time in the country that such a move has been initiated for such a mega-project. For the purpose of RTGS payments, we have set aside a sum of around Rs 10,000 crore," PWD (MSRDC) Minister Eknath Shinde told media persons after the ceremony on Saturday evening.
Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) officials said that this would solve the problems of pending payments to "project affected persons" - farmers in this case.
It also signals the start a new era of cooperation between the public and government for mega-infra projects like the upcoming Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway, known as Maharashtra Samruddhi Mahamarg, the officials said.
The MSRDC is implementing the ambitious 706-km-long showpiece project - dear to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis - to link the state capital with the second capital in the eastern part of the state.
The East-West link, traversing 10 districts and estimated to cost Rs 46,000 crore, will facilitate connectivity for 24 of the state's total 36 districts.
In the past couple of days, a few farmers became trendsetters by handing over the infertile lands for the expressway and walking away with the money credited directly to their bank accounts, with the SMS received immediately.
Raju Sahu became the first under the scheme to sell 1.25 hectares for Rs.59.11 lakh, and three others - Gopal Misal, Kalpana Misal and Chanda Gaikwad - sold a total of 5.59 hectares for Rs 2.6 crore compensation in Nagpur.
On Saturday, three farmers from Thane district - Ganpat Dhamne, Daulat Dhanke and Ganesh Raut - gave up a total 1.98 hectares owned by them, collectively valued at Rs 1.84 crore, for the project.
"This a better system of acquiring our lands. We are happy the money has come directly in our bank accounts minutes after signing and handing over the documents," said a delighted Raut.
Shinde said with these two events, the process to acquire lands through the direct purchase scheme has commenced and will be implemented in all the areas where lands are required for the expressway project.
"The government has already secured consent of another 323 farmers and the process of registration, sale and transferring the compensation is underway," said MSRDC's Joint MD Kiran Kurudkar.
Incidentally, the ruling ally Shiv Sena and the opposition Congress-Nationalist Congress Party have bitterly opposed the project on grounds that the farmers were being given a raw deal as their lands were acquired cheaply.
However, on Saturday, the Sena did a somersault and party President Uddhav Thackeray held a special press conference to announce support for the project, but warned that no injustice to farmers in terms of compensation would be tolerated.
"If the farmers' issues are not taken care of along with award of proper compensation, we shall not allow the project," he asserted.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)