Come to me with your expressway woes: Uddhav

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Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray urged farmers to bring their grievances regarding Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s Mumbai-Nagpur (Samruddhi) Expressway project to him. The project, a brainchild of the Fadnavis government, promises to transform the economy of the drought-prone Vidarbha and Marathwada regions by connecting Mumbai to Nagpur.

Mr. Thackeray also dismissed media reports that claimed the Sena is divided over the project and that party leader and PWD Minister Eknath Shinde is approaching farmers and negotiating with them to sell their land to the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) for the project.

“The Sena wants development but not at the cost of farmers. I have spoken to the Chief Minister and told him that he will have to compromise on certain areas of the Expressway to meet farmers’ demands, or completing the project will be difficult,” Mr. Thackeray told reporters here.

He added, “I want farmers to bring to our notice if they are being forced to part with their fertile lands or have not been given adequate compensation. We will ensure their demands are met,” he said. He said there are two areas of concern for farmers: one, they having to part with their fertile land and two, compensation.

“We have been engaging in a dialogue with farmers and will see that development does not happen by ruining the farmers. There have been false reports in the media that my stand and my party minister’s stand over the issue are different, and that Eknath Shinde is acquiring lands of farmers against my wishes. Though he is a minister, he is a staunch Sainik,” Mr. Thackeray said.

He added that he had instructed Mr. Shinde to visit project-affected villages, meet farmers understand their grievances and advise them hand over their lands for the corridor only if they are satisfied with every aspect of the government’s decision.