Shivaji's scion leads farmers' against Nagpur–Goa 'Shaktipeeth Expressway'

Thousands of farmers joined the protest from 12 districts of Maharashtra that the planned Rs 86,500 crore, 802 km inter-state is to slice through

Congress MP Shrimant Shahu, descendant of Chhatrapati Shivaji
(photo: @ss_suryawanshi/X)
Congress MP Shrimant Shahu, descendant of Chhatrapati Shivaji (photo: @ss_suryawanshi/X)


Congress MP Shrimant Shahu, descendant of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, on Tuesday, 18 June, 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 alliances, 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 that the planned Rs 86,500 crore, 802 km inter-state (Maharashtra–Goa) expressway will slice through, in what is billed as Maharashtra deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis' pet project.

Shrimant Shahu 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 Mumbai–Nagpur Samruddhi Expressway inaugurated last year — will cut through huge tracts of fertile agricultural land in Hingoli, Nanded, Parbhani, Osmanabad and Beed districts.

It will 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 shaktipeeths — Mahalaxmi, Tuljabhavani and Patradevi — two jyotirlingas at Aundha–Nagnath and Parli–Vaijnath, major temples at Mahur, Tuljapur and Pandharpur and other 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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