SAMRUDDHI EXPRESSWAY: THE ROAD TO VALIDATION
India Today|March 15, 2021
Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray is all set to gift the state its longest expressway, the Nagpur Mumbai Samruddhi Expressway, on May 1, the state’s foundation day.
Kiran D. Tare

A 520 km stretch between Shiv Madka near Nagpur and temple town Shirdi, which forms the first phase of the Expressway project, is scheduled to be inaugurated on the day. Work continues at a fast pace and the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), which is in charge of the project, is hopeful of completing it on time. Besides the economic spin-offs, the 701 km expressway project also has the potential to give a fillip to Thackeray’s party, the Shiv Sena, in the Vidarbha and Marathwada regions.

The Samruddhi Expressway has been a hotly-debated topic since then chief minister Devendra Fadnavis of the BJP announced the project in September 2015. There were protests in 2016 by farmers whose land was to be acquired for the project as there was no agreement on the compensation to be paid. Raising the Rs 55,000 crore needed for the project was also a big challenge.

But now, after five years, the Samruddhi Expressway is being touted as a model of speedy land acquisition and fair compensation rates. The MSRDC succeeded in acquiring 80 per cent of the land through direct purchase from the farmers. Around 15 per cent of the land was compulsorily acquired under the land acquisition law, 2015. The remaining landowners challenged the acquisition process but lost the case in court. By 2019, four years after the project started, all the land needed for it had been acquired.

The compensation was calculated on the bases of the ready reckoner rate or RRR (the minimum price at which a property has to be registered) and the last highest market price paid in a specific area. “We gave five times the highest price as compensation. It made the farmers see that our intentions were genuine,” says Radheshyam Mopalwar, managing director of MSRDC.

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