Chhatrapati Scion Leads Farmers' March Against Nagpur-Goa 'Shaktipeeth Expressway'

(MENAFN- IANS) Kolhapur (Maharashtra), June 18 (IANS) congress MP Chhatrapati Shrimant Shahu Maharaj here on Tuesday led a massive farmers' protest march, organised by all Political parties, to the district collectorate to voice strong opposition to the proposed Nagpur-Goa Shaktipeeth Expressway.

The procession included Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs and state legislators from the ruling MahaYuti and opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance, besides independent farmers' leaders who marched from Dasara Chowk to the collector's office.

Thousands of affected farmers joined the protest from the 12 districts through which the planned Rs 86,500 crore, 802 km long inter-state (Maharashtra-Goa) expressway would slice through, in what is billed as Deputy Mahrashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis' pet project.

Chhatrapati Shrimant Shahu Maharaj said: "Wherever the farmers are, I shall be with them."

He said he would raise their concerns with the government on the expressway.

"The farmers are strongly opposed to this project. We support them fully. We shall meet the collector and discuss the issue," he told mediapersons in the march.

Earlier, ruling Bharatiya Janata Party MP Ashok Chavan also said that if the farmers are not in favour of the expressway, then it should not come up by sacrificing their agricultural lands.

The 802-km long Shaktipeeth Expressway -- longer than the 701-km long Mumbai-Nagpur Samruddhi Expressway -- would cut through huge tracts of fertile agricultural lands in Hingoli, Nanded, Parbhani, Osmanabad and Beed districts.

It would link major pilgrimage centres and shrines en route with an expected boost to religious tourism and local development, though the farming community is apprehensive.

The expressway will connect three Shaktipeethas -- Mahalaxmi, Tuljabhavani and Patradevi, two Jyotirlingas at Aundha-Nagnath and Parli-Vaijnath, major temples at Mahur, Tuljapur, Pandharpur, and other major Hindu shrines en route.

Setting in motion the project, the state and district authorities have initiated the process of land acquisition for the mega-project recently, the aggrieved farmers told mediapersons.

When completed in the next four to five years, the proposed Shaktipeeth Expressway will zip through 12 districts of Maharashtra and one in Goa and comprise 26 interchanges, 30 tunnels, 48 bridges plus eight railway crossings.



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