The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) has proposed to convert reservation of the land and open it up for construction of educational and research institutes as well as amusement arcades.
The MSRDC has proposed the conversion in the Development Plan of 71 villages along the expressway for which it is the special planning authority. The authority has said that opening up of the land has been considered in view of urbanisation. The plan is in the public domain for suggestions and objections.
According to the plan chalked out by MSRDC, the villages have around 6,463 hectares of agricultural land, and after the proposed plan is passed, only 2,423.82 hectares will be agricultural land. The plan paper reads, “Acknowledging the need for development that this zone may possibly have… the growth potential of these zones are not restricted only to the agricultural and allied uses.”
It further reads, “Multiple other uses such as research and development institutions, entertainment activities such as amusement parks, film production, educational and medical institutions, integrated amenities, industries, etc are proposed to be permitted in this zone, with a very minimal floor space index, subject to conditions.”
A town planning scheme on 20 hectares and the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) with 1.0 floor space index is also proposed to be permitted in this zone, as per the market demand.
Pankaj Joshi of Urban Development Research Institute said, “The larger concern is bulk of agricultural land being converted. At the rate at which this is happening across the state for various projects, it will affect our food security. This kind of urbanisation and its speculation would inflate prices of agricultural land.”
An MSRDC official said, “These agricultural land parcels are scattered across 71 villages along Mumbai-Pune Expressway in Panvel and Raigad district, and are on hills where agriculture is not possible. Many are barren. We will have to take private landholders in confidence for acquiring agricultural land. Also, one will not have to give up the whole land but a certain portion for proposed development activities, and in lieu get permission to go vertical on the remaining land for the landowner’s benefit.”