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Govt to proceed on Shaktipeeth Expressway only after taking public into confidence: Eknath Shinde

Mumbai : Amid ongoing protests, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Friday announced that the government will proceed with the development of the 802-km Nagpur-Goa Expressway, also known as Shaktipeeth Expressway, only after considering the sentiments of the public and taking them into confidence.

The project cost is estimated to be around Rs 80,000 crore.

”This government belongs to the common people. Therefore, the project will be taken forward only by considering the sentiments of the public and taking them into confidence. No project will be imposed on the people. We completed the game changer project of Samruddhi Mahamarg (Nagpur-Mumbai Expressway) by taking people into confidence,” said Shinde.

He further said that “the government is considering redrawing the Shaktipeeth Expressway’s present alignment, especially on the sections where the protests are underway”.

“No project will move forward without taking the public into confidence,” CM Shinde said.

The Maharashtra Chief Minister’s statement on the matter assumes significance to avoid any backlash in the upcoming Assembly elections.

Shinde’s assurance came a day after the Maharashtra Minister of Higher Education Chandrakant Patil said that the government has taken a decision to stop land acquisition in view of protests by farmers.

The project has been hogging headlines due to protests by farmers and political parties.

The Maharashtra government in February this year cleared the project connecting all important Hindu religious pilgrim centres.

Of the 8,419 hectares required for the project, around 8,100 is private agricultural land.

A massive march was recently taken out in Kolhapur to demand cancellation of the expressway project.

Newly elected Congress MP Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj, MLC Satej Patil, MLA Rituraj Patil, former MP Raju Shetty, along with many activists and farmers participated in the march.

Congress legislator Satej Patal had warned that the state government should cancel the Shaktipeeth Expressway by July 12 or else they will stage an agitation.

The farmers had claimed that they would lose agricultural land from 11 districts.

They submitted that the development of Shaktipeeth Expressway was unnecessary as it aims to benefit the contractors.

In addition, the farmers have raised alarm over the environmental damage and destruction of small rivers and water streams due to the land filling and tunneling works.

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