Thane: The Thane Coastal Road project in the political backyard of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde has run into trouble with local villagers opposing the creation of the road along the Vasai Creek.
Opposition to the project is emanating primarily from Mogharpada Village on Ghodbunder Road. For decades now, the villagers have been farming on the land that the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), headed by the Chief Minister, is now looking to acquire for the project.
The 13.21km road connects Gaimukh and Balkum and is estimated to cost Rs 4,500 crore. The plots identified for acquisition are required not only for the Thane Coastal Road but also to set up a car depot for the Wadala Ghatkopar-Kasarvadavali and Kasarvadavali-Gaimukh metro rail lines. The two corridors are known as the Metro 4 and Metro 4A Green Lines.
Farmers oppose the project
“Farmers of Mogharpada each received some 64 guntas (40 guntas make an acre) of land for cultivation,” said Sanjay Patil, 48, himself a farmer. The parcels were distributed by the Collector to 250 or 300 farmers in 1960, according to Patil, who said the farmers had protected it from encroachment ever since and used it exclusively for agriculture.
For some time water from the creek used to enter the land, so the villagers built a check dam at their own expense. “We were allowed to change the ownership of the land by paying a premium to the Collector,” Patil said. “At least 167 farmers have their own 7/12 extracts. Now suddenly we are receiving notices that the land will be taken over, which is not correct.”
Patil insisted that the villagers would fight for their rights and not give up. “We are not against the development of the Metro, but it should not cost us our livelihoods,” he said.
Anil Thakur (51), another local farmer, also said the Government was not doing right. “Over the past few months, many politicians have been trying to woo us to give up our land,” said Thakur.
“But there is no clarity on the compensation from either MMRDA officials or the Government.” He said officials tried twice to conduct land surveys in Mogharpada, “but we did not allow them. If the MMRDA and State Government think they can go ahead with the car shed project, it is not right. If our livelihood is snatched from us, we will have no option but to commit suicide.” Earlier this week, MLA Pratap Sarnaik, a part of Shinde’s camp, held a meeting with the villagers but was unable to persuade them to give up their opposition.