Maharashtra Assembly makes way for speedier land acquisition for highway projects

In a move that will speed up acquisition of land for highway projects in the state, including the Mumbai-Nagpur super communication expressway, the state Assembly on Thursday cleared a bill amending the Maharashtra Highways Act, 1955.

The amendment provides for higher compensation – up to four times the value of the land in rural areas – to acquire land for state highway projects, on the lines of the Centre’s Land Acquisition law of 2013.

The bill was cleared by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) without any discussion, amid a din by the Opposition over the Nanar project. The BJP cleared three bills, which were earlier promulgated as ordinances by the state government. The other two bills include an amendment to the Maharashtra Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, and Maharashtra Agricultural Produce Marketing Act, 1963.

An ordinance has to be passed by both the Houses of the state legislature within six months, otherwise it gets struck down and a new ordinance has to be tabled.

The amendment to the Highways Act will enable faster land acquisition, as project-affected persons will be incentivised to hand over their land to the government, said a senior public works department (PWD) official. This Act will be used to acquire land for the Mumbai-Nagpur super communication highway.

The state government has already cleared a bill to amend the Land Acquisition Act, 2013, which will enable faster acquisition for this highway by including Maharashtra Highways Act in it, avoid social impact assessment study, among other provisions.

The amendment to the Maharashtra Agricultural Produce Marketing Act is a bid to give farmers maximum benefit of competition through electronic trading of produce. This is a part of the Centre’s national agricultural market scheme (e-NAM) introduced in 2016.

The amendment provides “licences to traders for electronic trading platform, so basic payments to farmers can be ensured”, states the bill.

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