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The state government has junked claims of several other agencies on the plot to use it to fund the Rs 45,000-crore project. The plot could fetch upwards of Rs 2,000 cr. The state government has decided to sell a 30-acre plot of land in Bandra (West) to raise funds for the proposed Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis's Rs 45,000-crore pet project.

Given its prime location, the plot on the right when one enters the Bandra-Worli Sea Link is likely to fetch upwards of Rs 2,000 crore. The Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway project is being executed by the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation, and the state government is in touch with both national and multilateral lenders like the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank.
However, since the government wants the project rolling by October-end this year and completed by 2019, when the state goes to polls, some ready cash would be most welcome. The state government has junked claims of several other agencies to the plot, to use it to fund the expressway project. While the Brihammumbai Municipal Corporation wanted it to set up a sewerage pumping station, the Mumbai Metro Corporation had sought it to set up a casting yard for the Colaba Seepz Metro. Ruling party MLA from Bandra Ashish Shelar wanted to develop a park on the plot, but has had to give up the plan. "The plan for the park has been shelved, though there will be a small recreational ground on the plot as per development control regulations," he said on Wednesday.

MSRDC's managing director Radheshyam Mopalwar confirmed that the plot will be sold to raise money for the expressway. Its joint-managing director K V Kurundkar said the land will fetch a good price because it has an unfettered bay view and is just a minute's ride from the Sea-Link. Since the Mahim creek is now classified as a bay, stringent Coastal Regulation Zone rules, that do not allow construction within 500 metres from the high tide line, do not apply to this plot. The no-construction restriction for bays is only 100 metres from the high tide line.

The plot was originally in the possession of the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority but was transferred to MSRDC in the late nineties. "We are now in the process of finalising the boundaries and the suburban collector is helping us," said Kurundkar. Fadnavis, who hails from Nagpur, has put his weight behind the project. At a presentation made to editors last month, he said the project will take Maharashtra 20 years ahead of any other state in the country. Officially, the project has been christened Maharashtra Prosperity Expressway. Apart from building an access-controlled 710-km road connecting Mumbai to Nagpur, the project also involves developing industrial clusters and townships along the carriageway.

Among the districts through which the project will pass are Nagpur, Wardha, Buldhana, Amravati, Thane, Washim, Mumbai, Bhiwandi, Aurangabad and Akola. The expressway will start at Vadpe near Shahapur in Thane district. Officials said securing land for the project would not be an issue as the state has decided to not follow the tricky acquisition scheme, which invariably gets stuck over the compensation rate. The government will instead follow a land pooling model, in which farmers will be made partners and a certain percentage of the developed land will be given back to them.

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