After a lull of about four months, the Maharashtra Secretariat is making moves to resolve the impasse over the Jaitapur nuclear project. The Maharashtra Government is considering a higher compensation package for farmers who had to give up their land for the project.
The State is considering increasing the compensation to up to Rs 30 lakh an acre for about 2,335 land-holders who have to give up their land under the Land Acquisition Act, a senior Ministry source said. The amount would be paid without considering the quality of the land. At present, compensation ranges from Rs 50,000 to about Rs 6 lakh for an acre, depending on the quality of land.
In 2009, when 938 hectares were acquired by the project developer, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) had offered Rs 53,000 to Rs 1.05 lakh an acre for barren land, while the compensation for grazing land was Rs 1.2 lakh to Rs 4.22 lakh an acre. For good quality irrigated land, which could produce paddy and had fruit-bearing trees, Rs 1.8 lakh to Rs 6.34 lakh per acre was offered. The proposal to increase the compensation would soon be placed before the State Cabinet for approval. The mode of payment, “whether to pay the money upfront or through instalments, is being considered,” the source said.
According to a source, some senior officers believe that a compensation of Rs 30 lakh an acre is too high and would affect other projects in the State. They feel that land acquisition for projects that are on the anvil and those on the drawing board would become extremely difficult. Further, they point out that companies such as NPCIL that are cash rich, can foot a land acquisition bill of Rs 700 crore but not others. They have, therefore, put their objection on the record, the source said.
NPCIL plans to set up a 10,000 MW nuclear-power plant at Jaitapur in Ratnagiri district. The project will be based on the European Pressurised Reactor technology of French nuclear power company Areva. The total project cost is estimated to run to over Rs 1 lakh crore.