January 28, 2010

life in general: like racism elsewhere, casteism has to stop in india

Some Indians are experiencing violent form of racism in Australia in the last one year. To read the many newsreports on it just do an internet search.

Even in a progressive city like London, some form of racism is seen sometimes. I say this from my own experience in London when I visited the city in endofJanuary-earlyFebruary 2009. I was at Oxford Street and wanting to cross to the other side I was waiting for a pedestrian signal to turn green. I was standing near a lamp post when suddenly a group of British teenagers came up to my right, screamed loudly some gibberish sounds in my right ear and ran away. Now, I did not see such a thing happening to fair-skinned Britishers and Europeans. So, I presume my Asian look invited that kind of behaviour. Racist, was it? Anyway, those teenagers will learn sooner or later that their racist behaviour is not conducive for their growth as good human beings.

Even some local Chinese practise racism against brown-skinned Asians and Africans on the streets of Hong Kong.

Then, you have casteism in India where some Hindu Indians indulge in discrimination and other un-civil behaviour against Dalits and other scheduled castes and tribes. Below is a story on a recent incidence of casteism in the state of Karnataka in India. Finally, the extreme forms of violence perpetrated against Muslims in Gujarat in March 2002, in Bombay in January 1993 and at other times at other places is also a form of racism. Some Hindus (who are extremists) pick on any man, woman and child who happens to be a Muslim.

Here is the story on casteism:


The unkindest cut of all
Post October floods in North Karnataka, Dalits find themselves in a greater predicament. A century of struggle for equal rights and worse, fundamental faith in human progress, is at stake, writes Savita Hiremath.


24 December 2009 - On September 30, hours dragged by and the black shadow of calamity brooded over Hachcholli of Koppal taluk. People looked up into the sky heavy with scudding clouds and misled themselves into thinking that it would be just another downpour. A day later, they were in the midst of an unprecedented tragedy as the rain-swollen Tungabhadra and Hagari rivers swept mercilessly everything that came in their way.

A Dalit in front his house in Kakkaragol of Koppal taluk. Pic: Savita Hiremath.

They now know what it means to have houses submerged, fertile fields stripped, bales of cotton soiled, sacks of rice soaked, cattle dead, and women and children turned to starve.

A ghastly trip home

Once the waters receded, it was a ghastly trip home. For some there was no trace of home at all, just a clean sweep of the past. Once the government launched emergency relief measures and installed some sheds, things began to fall in place - caste was the first priority. Although there was no semblance of order or discipline while distributing food and relief material, isolation of Dalits was achieved with utmost urgency and sincerity. The fringes were neatly delineated and that’s where they were sent back again.

“In some villages, they weren’t even allowed to take shelter in temples and schools,” says Basavaraj Kowtal, convenor of Human Rights Front for Dalit Liberation-Karnataka.

This segregation came easy in Hachcholli. Post 1992 floods, a sizable SC/ST population was housed in sheds put up a kilometre away from the village. This time the rest of the Dalits were told to move in with others. This distance has cost them dear. A huge portion of relief material reached the upper caste, well-to-do families while 300-400 families living on the periphery remained unaware of the goings-on.

Marthamma (50) rues that relief material including plates, tumblers, blankets, lanterns, and kerosene stove didn’t even reach them. “Only some NGOs helped us. Officials do not visit us. Even if they come, they just talk to some people at the entrance and go back.”

Gruel centres

When I visited Hachcholli and Shridharagadde of Bellary 45 days after the floods, casteist politics at gruel centres (ganji kendra) was striking. With the curtain of prejudice keeping them automatically away from the overcrowded centres; invariably, it was the dalits who returned hungry.

Kowtal, who toured worst-hit Bijapur district, says nowhere did he come across a single centre set up in a Dalit colony. The officials set up one centre for 2-3 villages and none for Dalits despite being aware that casteism is intense in villages.

Everybody loves a good flood
Devastated and drowned

Kowtal, who toured worst-hit Bijapur district, says nowhere did he come across a single centre set up in a Dalit colony. The officials set up one centre for 2-3 villages and none for Dalits despite being aware that casteism is intense in villages. “The possibility of Dalits eating food with the rest simply does not exist. In Kowligi (Bijapur), Dalits were told to get their own plates although they had none. Even hungry children weren’t spared.”

Survey based on 1992 records

The bias cuts so deep that in Anjotigi of Indi taluk, 25-30 Dalits are living in only five sheds of 10x10 dimensions. Life inside is far beyond any reasonable endurance. These shacks can house only hostility - not humans by any stretch of imagination. Ramesh K, member of Bijapura Shoshithara Abhivriddhi Vedike (a newly constituted forum to fight discrimination against flood-hit Dalits), confirms that “people are being stuffed into these sheds like cattle”.

Grave errors have crept in, with officials refusing to survey Dalit colonies. The errors appear deliberate. "They are using the 1992 records to fix compensation. Many new houses have come up since then but they weren’t given proper property records. And those who did own have lost them to the floods. Now these records are a must to get relief,” says Kowtal.

Death brings no relief

Dalit-colony: Segregated Dalits in Hachcholli of Koppal district. Pic: Savita Hiremath.

In Hachcholli, Dalit youths showed me some unsigned bearer cheques and a slew of unacknowledged petitions seeking relief for damaged houses. One unique case was Sathveerappa’s, whose mother Venkamma was the only villager washed away in the flash floods. Despite repeated pleas, the Rs.1 lakh compensation announced by the government was elusive. “When we asked for compensation, they said ‘what do we do if someone dies’? Later they told me to get a death certificate. Now they are not even ready to sign on it.”

When contacted, Siruguppa Tahsildar Geetha N R said she was not aware of such cases and would look into it personally. But she was quick to mention that these people were frittering away their time and relief money at arrack shops. Reacts Kowtal: “How long will this money last? Why can't the officials give cheques to the women if they are so concerned?”

Religious politics in full swing

If the system is dehumanising the Dalits over their identity, religious heads are trying to strip them of the same - the most unkindest cut of all.

Be it Marthamma, Ramesh, or Sathveerappa, the only thing that the floods could not take away from them is their identity. Not so anymore with religious forces in particular exploiting the situation under the guise of charity.

Kowtal says in Hulgunchi of Raichur district, local seer Ram Krishna Swamiji offered to adopt the village provided it is named after him. He also insisted that the victims deposit their relief money into his bank account and he would add his own to build a new colony. “These religious heads are trying to push us back into the same Hindutva mould we have been keeping at bay for centuries. Now we have to live in Hindu colonies and walk on Hindu roads. Back to 100 years - all over again.”

They feel the atrocities committed against Dalits so far were isolated and individual instances on certain people or villages. “But now they have it in bulk. This is an opportunity for the casteist people to put their deepest prejudices against Dalits to work and co-opt us by giving food and shelter when we are down on our knees.”

Kowtal is also critical of the state government’s willingness to involve RSS-backed Seva Bharati which allegedly left Muslims and Dalits out of its rehabilitation schemes after the Gujarat earthquake. “Basically it’s a casteist government and a majority of those who run it are also casteist. Obviously their interests are protected.”

On December 13, their nightmare came true with Chief Minister Yeddyurappa announcing that the shelters built by the Mutts and private firms would be named after them.

Suspended between the predicament of losing their identity and the nasty persistence of the bureaucracy, religious generosity to hem them into their own ideology, the plight of the dalits untangles many a sordid tale wound into a skein by the ravages of the floods.

Floods spared them, but not bureaucrats

Karnataka's bureaucracy eliminated what even the worst floods of the century spared. Patelgalli - a declared slum dominated by 500 Dalit families in Bijapur - will remember the October floods for a different reason altogether. The slum, perching on an elevated land, escaped the fury of the floods with minimal losses only to be flattened by three bulldozers, pressed into service by the district administration, in just 2-3 hours. The victims’ protests to save over 500 houses turned futile as did their efforts to salvage their belongings.

Led by police personnel alone in the conspicuous absence of bureaucrats, Ramesh says people were told to pack up within an hour to be shifted out of their 20-year-old dwellings. When they protested, they were lathi-charged, loaded into trucks, and dumped into sheds 9 kms away from Patelgalli - a barren land with no basic amenities including drinking water. “Initially, all the 4000-5000 people were forced to live in only 50 sheds of 10x10 size. They installed 60 more following our protest march. Nearly 4-5 families are living in one shed. One short circuit, and we will all perish,” adds Ramesh.

Kowtal and Ramesh, who met the District Commissioner Shantha Kumar along with thousands of protesters, say how the DC ticked them off terming it “orders from above” and washed his hands of saying he was on leave during the demolition. They feel the administration couldn’t think of a better time and excuse as the floods gave “an excellent opportunity” to push the Dalits over the edge.

Kowtal adds: “The entire operation was so swift and well-planned. No parallel arrangements were made nor enough time given to pack things up. What was the need for all this? Even if their version was true, it could have been handled in a humane manner.”

Privatising welfare?

Prof T R Chandrashekar of Hampi Kannada University, who led a team of seven intellectuals and research assistants to eight flood-hit districts, finds it quite beyond the pale to see religious groups and corporates manage relief operations on their own. While appreciating their indirect involvement, he argues that the victims will not be able to question anything even if something goes wrong. “This is our basic contention. The entire flood relief programme should be formulated from the human rights perspective. Not charity.”

He advocates involving local panchayats, human rights groups, and the victims themselves to design their own relief schemes. “If the private firms and Mutts are so compassionate, let them donate the money to the government. If people have to live with dignity, it should be the government’s concern.”

Adds Ramesh: “enough of pity. We don’t want to live on obligation forever.”

Savita Hiremath was formerly features editor at the New Indian Express.

January 27, 2010

mutual funds in india

I was crunching the Assets under Management figures of the mutual funds in India and here are the results (click on the images below to see them enlarged & clear):

January 26, 2010

life in general: truth helps, not hurts

'India protests BBC film as poverty porn', states the headline of a newsreport in today's edition. I read the newsreport and realise that it is self-defeating for my country's government to resort to objections of this kind. A British media series 'Grand Designs' sent its main main, Kevin McCloud, to Dharavi, a very large slum in the centre of Bombay.

Kevin stayed inside the slum with a local family, and made a film/documentary. Read some more about Kevin's film and experiences in another recent newsreport, that I have cut and pasted in its entirety below.

There must be at least 20 million staying in slums in cities and towns of my country. These Indian citizens would stand to benefit if the Indian government's politicians, bureaucrats and police force can just stop meting out injustices of various kinds.

The objection of Indian government includes the fact that Kevin had not disclosed accurately of his film while taking permit from the Indian High Commission in England. Well, if Kevin had disclosed the fact then he would not got the visa to travel to India at all. And, his film is not negative about the slum life. What happens inside the homes of many affluent Indians is also not necessarily clean and hunky dory.

Here then is Kevin talking about his experience in Dharavi:


Kevin McCloud on his trip to India
This Indian shanty town has Kevin McCloud rethinking some of his grand designs.
By Kevin McCloud
Published: 4:49PM GMT 08 Jan 2010

Imagine a town of a million people living in dark, cramped shanties and tenements. Their homes are rudimentary, tiny, spotless, with minimal sanitation. Five people inhabit each room. Every morning this industrious population rolls up its beds and in an instant transforms tens of thousands of living spaces into an informal network of freelance workshops, making and selling almost anything imaginable. This is the Mumbai district of Dharavi, Asia’s largest slum and the supposed setting for Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire.

But Dharavi is also an economic miracle, and its one square mile of shanties has a turnover of an estimated billion dollars. Plague, cholera and TB abound, but its citizens are among the happiest and most beautiful I’ve seen. If there were a world prize for best-dressed neighbourhood with special award for dazzling teeth it would go to Dharavi. When I went to film two programmes for Channel 4 about how Dharavi has organised itself, I felt the scruffiest person there.

Architects and urban planners are apt to celebrate Dharavi’s 80 neighbourhoods as a “proto-city”, in formation like an economic supernova. They like the chaotic, plan-free and dynamic way in which the people there organise their lives. Before I went I did not share their enthusiasm. I’ve always considered the design process as highly efficient and proven; the planning of space as important. Their enthusiasm begged the questions: what are the essential requirements for human beings to get on together and become happy? How dense can communities get? What, for that matter, is a community? Does privacy matter?

Kevin McCloud in a Mumbai shanty town
Kevin McCloud in a Mumbai shanty town Photo: Channel 4

I found surprising answers to these questions when I stayed with families in Dharavi. In the ramshackle potteries district, where potters set fires in fuming, open kilns right outside their front doors, I lodged with Veni Patel, her husband, Anand, and the 19 other members of their family. Grandma lumps pots and clay around their tin shack workshop cum living room cum bedroom; Monica and Akhshay go – immaculately dressed and coiffed – to local schools, funded partly by the economic success of Dharavi. Monica wants to be an air hostess; Akhshay could follow his cousin into IT or even his neighbour, Dev, who’s a banker.

The complex lifestyle of these extended families that reaches across not just Dharavi, but Mumbai (with which the slum has a symbiotic relationship), revealed how flexible people have to be when living cheek by jowl in such tiny spaces. We, meanwhile, take for granted things like a bedroom — in other words, a room with just one designated role. As a Dharavi social worker put it: “Virtually every home doubles up as a productive space. Work at home if you can afford it. If you can’t then live at work.”

Privacy in the West is linked to physical space whereas to the average Dharavian it resides in the mind. It has to. The threshold of the home, the point between public and private space moves throughout the day with the use of that space. The potters in the family will also invade the alleys and squares with trays of their freshly turned pots before firing, claiming public space as their own for a short while. Over here they’d be fined for causing a health and safety risk. There it’s just part of the give and take – sharing.

It is this give and take that allows people there to live together in such large numbers. We live far more formalised and rigid lives, insisting on immutable thresholds to our homes, on fetishistic levels of cleanliness, light and space that Veni Patel would find risible. And yet, if we’re going to be living low-carbon lives in low-carbon houses in Britain, we’re going to have to figure out some very extensive ways of being flexible: sharing the resources we have to make them last.

Sharing is something that families in Dharavi do very well. The family is also the nucleus of social life, meaning that its members may know other households around the square but be oblivious to residents just one street away. After all, why bother to get to know another streetful of people when 19 of your relatives live in your house – when those same relatives greet you at the end of a back-breaking day in the sweatshop with a smile? The family, it seems, makes a huge contribution to the overall happiness of people in Dharavi and in India in general.

These were all intriguing revelations perhaps too woven into life in Dharavi to translate into the sustainable and ecological housing schemes that my company, Hab, and others are trying to realise in Britain. But there are wider lessons to learn: from the way Veni’s family share the public realm outside their front door and graciously accommodate their neighbours’ needs; from the car-free life they lead in which everything they need is available within a five-minute walk; from the lack of interest in material excess in favour, perhaps, of time shared. Not all these can be designed into a newbuild British scheme, but they can be given an opportunity to take root and flourish, as they have done in other European model communities.

Meanwhile, as the social observer Robert Neuwirth points out, a billion people currently live in slum conditions. That’s a sixth or so of the world’s population. By 2050 it will be three billion, a third. If you want to know what the worldwide city of tomorrow is, Dharavi is it.
- Kevin McCloud: Slumming It is on Channel 4 on Thursday at 9pm

January 24, 2010

life in financial markets: fundamentals versus market prices

The financial system was in a deep crisis in 2008 and using taxpayers' money governments (including Indian government) rushed to bail out the banks and other investment firms either directly or indirectly. As a result, liquidity in the global financial system was very high in 2009 and that led to a 60-100% rise in equity prices worldwide.

I think the bailouts were un-necessary and will only encourage reckless leveraging and mis-behaviour among the large market participants.

Anyway, late last month (December 2009) I contributed a news analysis story on the Indian listed companies' fundamentals not keeping pace with the sharp rise in market prices. Last week has seen much-needed correction in stock prices but it is still not enough.

Here goes:

Will India Inc. chase the market rabbit?

Barring the scary late-October crash, the last three months has seen the stock market on an automatic gear driving the steady flow of foreign institutional investor (FII) investments. But the second half of this month (i am referring to January as readers would be reading our new issue not before 1/2 Jan) will see fundamentals come in to the limelight once again as the listed companies' financial results for the December 2008-ended quarter start pouring.

Valuation of stocks by FIIs and domestic institutional investors have risen sharply and sustained ever since net profits and earnings per share rose sharply in the last quarter of the 2008-09 financial year.

The Price to Earnings ratio of the 50-stock S&P CNX Nifty index shot up by 40% during April-June this year after the previous quarter's (January-March 2009) Nifty stocks' aggregate EPS grew by a healthy 7.8% over the October-December 2008 quarter (see table) and aggregate net profit grew by a hefty 28% in the same period.

(click on the image to see it enlarged & clear)

The first two quarters of the current financial year (2009-10) have bought out the difficulties India Inc is having in sustaining high growth in profits as they stuttered. Yet the Nifty P/E has continued crossing 23 on Christmas eve. In the last five years (see graph below) it had peaked at 27.9 on 11 January 2008 before the big crash of that year. Global liquidity has prevented prices from falling but it has also meant that valuations have got stretched.

"What we believe is that that most of the consensus earnings upgrade forecasts for next 2 years is based on looking at sharp revival of growth in second half of the current financial year and that is why the December 2009 quarter figures will be watched very closely," says Gaurav Dua, head of research at Sharekhan. Dua is clear that these results will not only have to meet Dalal Street's expecatations but also be much ahead.

(click on the image to see it enlarged & clear)

That the Indian equity market, like a few other emerging markets in Asia, has always been considered expensive have never deterred FIIs. "Global investors focus more on their confidence back home in their western economies and if that is good they come to emerging markets notwithstanding high P/E ratios," says Saurabh Mukherjea, Bombay-based head of India equities at Noble Group.

But if corporate earnings falter, or do not meet street expecation, then any liquidity-driven sustained rise in prices will lead to the Nifty P/E touching stratospheric leves of 25 and above. In its October 2009 India Strategy report, Enam Securities had looked at what can happen next and indicated that the Indian market would see a sharp upward spike "if global liquidity continues to seek strong domestic growth and 'thematic investing' starts overlooking valuations."

The suspense will be over once the Q3 results start coming in.

January 23, 2010

life in financial markets: now, India wants US to waive their securities laws

The Indian regulators (the Ministry of Corporate Affairs headed by Minister Salman Khurshid, the Securities and Exchange Board of India headed by C.B. Bhave, and the Central Bureau of Investigation) would receive the blessings of many right-thinking investors and market participants if they go about bringing to account the frauds committed by Satyam Computer (now called Tech Mahindra) on investors aided by its former chiefs and officials, instead of asking the United States of America's securities market regulator, the Securities and Exchange Commission to go easy (newsreports here, here and here) on taking action against Satyam Computer for the impact of the company's fraud on US investors as the company's ADRs were also listed on a US stock exchange.

In India, other than the arrest of its former chiefs, Satyam Computer, as a company, has received absolutely no penal action for the fraud it committed on investors and the entire market. The fraud mainly involved falsifying its financial statements with inflated profits and revenue figures, and siphoning off funds.

The US SEC would do well not to get influenced by the Indian regulators' shameful plea for going soft on Satyam. If it does go soft then it will not have done the job it is required to do to uphold the provisions of securities laws in the US. The US investors would not gain by such a laxity.

January 22, 2010

life in financial markets: (part 1) leverage: good or bad?

Leverage in financial markets has been around for many decades. I am starting a series of write-ups (mine or others) that shed light on leverage and its effects.

This first part is taken from http://www.fullspate.net/meltdown.html. Here goes:

Leverage: the Root of the 2008 Financial Meltdown

Anyone following the 2008 meltdown unfold in the media can be forgiven for not understanding how it was possible for so many massive financial institutions to go from boom to bust in such a short space of time. Sub-prime loans have been mentioned a lot and it's clear that something went wrong in the mortgage market, but many of us probably have little idea of why the world of finance and investment has collapsed so dramatically.

Just what led to the meltdown?

Certainly there wasn't a single factor that was to blame. From the mid 1990s financial institutions were putting more and more money into new kinds of very risky investments. Some of these investments – like credit default swaps – are very difficult to understand (the New York Times called them "arcane" in one article) but the particular investments are a less important factor than the technique called leverage that was (and is) used to make those investments. Arguably, understanding what leverage is, is the key to understanding the meltdown.

So what is leverage? In essence, it just refers to the practice of borrowing money to make an investment.

To see how it works and to see both how attractive it can seem and how unbelievably risky it is, lets compare leverage with an old-fashioned investment.
Property Speculation As It Used To Be

Say you have $20,000 to invest in property. You buy land worth $20,000. Over a period of time it's market value increases by 10%. You make $2,000. Not bad. And in the old days you might have been happy with that.
Investing With Leverage

$2,000 is nice, but more would be better, wouldn't it? So why not leverage?

If you have $20,000 (and if the economy is ticking over quite nicely) you should be able to persuade a financial institution to lend you a lot more. Let's say you are loaned 19 times your original amount, making the total sum $400,000. Wow! so you invest $400,000 in property. The value increases by 10%. You sell the property and count your profits and find that you have made $40,000. Instead of the 10% profit you would have made with the old-fashioned technique, you have made 200%!! Of course you have to pay interest on the money you borrowed, and that might cut your profits in half, but 100% profit ($20,000) is still way, way better than 10% ($2,000).

When times are good there is no doubting the attractions of leverage, but when the bubble bursts things can get very, very nasty.

In the old days, if you bought property worth $20,000 with your own money and land values dropped by 10%, you could hold onto the property, shed a few tears about losing $2,000 and wait for the good times to come back again.

What happens to the leveraged investment? Well, after the 10% drop in land values your $400,000 investment is now worth $360,000. The market looks bad and the people who loaned you the money want it back. They loaned you $380,000 (19 times 20,000). You can get $360,000 by selling the property, but you still owe another $20,000. Shit! You started with $20,000 not so long ago, and now you owe $20,000. You haven't lost 10%, you've lost %200!! Actually, it's even worse than that because you also owe interest on the loan, which could be another $20,000, so you lose all your money and owe $40,000 (meaning you made a loss of 300%). You start tearing your hair out. And it's not only you who is tearing out hair. The financial institution is, too, because it isn't an old fashioned bank. It is also leveraged up to the hilt. It has made lots and lots of other loans like yours – all leveraged. In this way, a relatively small downturn in the market (and for the guy who buys stuff with his own money, a 10% downturn is not such a big deal) can send a tidal wave through the investment and finance business, leaving lots of companies bankrupt.

In the example here, the leverage ratio is 19 to one, which might seem like a senseless amount of borrowing for normal people. However, before the bubble burst the ratios were even higher. The mortgage giants in the U.S. Fannie May and Freddie Mac, which were closely linked to the government and were supposedly run to stricter standards than normal, were leveraged close to 100:1. If you surf a little on the internet for investment agents, you'll find some that say it's okay to be leveraged 200 to one (i.e. you have $20,000 and you borrow $4,000,000 to put into risky investments!!).

So what is the lesson to be learnt from all this? As John Stepek put it in Money Week recently: "The only way to stop future crises is to prevent the level of leverage in the system from reaching the point where it becomes dangerous." Leverage ratios above a sensible limit need to be banned. The problem is that it is easy to find support for a policy like this during a crisis, but while the economy is on the up so many powerful voices will insist that such regulations put an unreasonable brake on economic activity.

January 19, 2010

life in general & financial markets: is this development or criminal intimidation?

I would encourage all capitalists, industrialists, bureaucrats, financial market professionals and economists in India, China, US, UK and elsewhere who believe the "development" stories of India, China etc to not ignore the actual happenings at ground level. I would urge them to respect the legal and property rights of others as much as they would respect their own.

Take, for instance, the land scam happening near Lonavla, a hill town about 100 kilometres near Bombay in the Indian state of Maharashtra. A very large piece of land and look (see the story below that appeared in Down To Earth magazine in August 2009, followed by a April 2009 press note of Medha Patkar and other social activists) at what happened:


Howl of the hills
Nidhi Jamwal

Nidhi Jamwal
Lavasa hill station project ou

Land grab and dubious political links cloud “free India’s first and largest hill station”. Spread over 5,058 hectares (ha), the hill station Lavasa is coming up on the backwaters of government-owned Warasgaon dam in the Western Ghats, about 65 km from Pune. Billboards and hoardings along the Mumbai-Pune expressway, screaming out “Lavasa amidst seven hills with a 60 km of lakefront”, are hard to miss. Lavasa Corporation Limited, a subsidiary of Hindustan Construction Company Limited (hcc), is developing the project with plush promises of a dream abode. Scheduled to finish by 2021, the first phase, Dasve town, may become operational by mid next year.

The company’s dreams, however, have become a nightmarish experience for 18 villages from where the land has been “acquired” to develop Lavasa. These 18 villages, mostly inhabited by tribals, are spread out in the Mulshi and Velhe taluka of Pune district. On speaking to villagers, Down To Earth (dte) found that most tribal families had had similar experiences: cheated by local agents, land records changed (see table: Owner switch), loss of land, bouncing of cheques, threats and living in constant fear. Mugaon (in Mulshi) is the only one among the 18 villages that has gathered some strength to fight the project. All the 100 families there have lost their land to the company.

Owner switch
Villagers allege land deeds have been changed to benefit Lavasa Corporation
Survey No Land area Land owner as per old 7/12 (pre-September 2007) Land owner as per new 7/12 (September 2007)
50/12 6 hectare Laxman Lhanu Waghmare Lavasa Corporation
50/3 5.6 hectare Kondu Dhaku Kokre Lavasa Corporation
50/6 5.6 hectare Lahanu Bhiva Jhadav Lavasa Corporation
50/10 6 hectare Kashi Ram Lahanu Waghmare Lavasa Corporation
50/11 6 hectare Narayan Nahpati Gawdi Lavasa Corporation
Note: All these survey numbers are in Mugaon village, Mulshi taluka of Pune district.
Source: Compiled from 7/12 records

No, we have done our bit

Company officials term these allegations “baseless”. “We have the full cooperation of the local people, and have managed all land acquisition smoothly. People understand that they will gain through the development of this hill station,” says a spokerperson of the Lavasa Corporation. On the criticism that the project is drawing, he adds, “A project of this magnitude will always attract attention.” But people are dissatisfied. “Some of us have been rehabilitated on the hill top. It is highly inconvenient. There is no water here and currently the company is supplying water through tankers. For how long will it do that?” a villager questions. Maruti Sahebrao Bhapkar, an activist-cum-corporator of Pune, said: “If the state and Lavasa are serious about protecting the adivasis and benefiting them, they should make the villagers shareholders in the corporation.”

Activists are calling the project illegal. “The land of adivasis here is ceiling land. During the land reforms movement, excess land that was acquired by the government was given to adivasis for tilling in 1972. Land deed, locally called 7/12, was also issued in their names. Such ceiling land can neither be transferred nor sold. But the Maharashtra government has issued special resolutions to ensure that the ceiling land can be acquired for developing Lavasa,” says Rifat Mumtaz of Pune-based ngo National Centre for Advocacy Studies (ncas). Mumtaz adds that Lavasa has flouted rules because the project has not taken any environmental impact assessment (eia) clearance from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests.

Lavasa’s spokerperson defends saying theirs is a tourism project situated at a height of 1,000
Colonialism is dead. Long live colonialism!

metres above sea level, hence they don’t need an eia clearance. “Besides, Lavasa has obtained environment clearances from the Maharashtra environment department in accordance with the requirement of Hill Station Regulation, 1996,” he said. Rubbishing the claim, Mumtaz asks, “How can such a huge project be exempted because it is tourism project? It will still have environmental implications."

I had over 18 hectares. I sold it to a private agent in 2002 against five cheques totalling Rs 580,000. All of them bounced and I haven’t received a single penny for my land which is now in the name of the company. I now work as a chowkidar in Pune

a 60-year-old-villager of Mugaon
I have somehow managed to hold onto my 19 hectares. I won’t part with it. Some representatives of the company came to survey my land but I took away their survey machinery. I have three daughters and one son to support

a 33-year-old widow of Mugaon
I have about seven hectares, which I refused to sell to local agents. They threatened to get me killed and I had to run away and stay in the forests for six months

a 65-year-old villager of Mugaon
Sampat Kale, also of ncas, told dte:“The Bhil, Thakar, Dhangar and other tribal population here follow a barter system and are unlettered. Private companies and land agents have bought their land at Rs 500-1,000 per acre and sold to the company, which has also carried out land acquisitions directly. In some cases land deeds have been forged. The project should be stopped till proper investigations are done.”

Displacement, circa 1975
This is not the first time that these villages are getting displaced. In the mid-1970s, the state owned Maharashtra Krishna Valley Development Corporation (mkvdc) acquired land from these 18 villages to construct the Warasgaon irrigation-cum-drinking water dam. The dam is built on the Mose river and has its backwater spreading to 18 km. While acquiring land for the dam, some villagers were rehabilitated to nearby tehsil s and some were allotted land upstream of the dam.

“In 1974, I had about 5 ha but I did not object when my land was acquired for the dam. I was given 1.2 ha in return in another taluka. Of this, only 0.8 ha is in my name and the rest is embroiled in a legal battle. Even on the 0.8 ha, I cannot grow crops as there is no water in that area. Now, the state has given the land acquired for the dam to Lavasa Corporation on a 30-year lease. We have been protesting for the past four years but no one supports us. The project obviously has politicians’ backing,” says Ankush Shedge, a Mugaon resident. Activists too allege that the nexus between politicians and builders is apparent. There is proof as well, they add. According to ‘Annual Return of Lavasa Corporation Ltd’ acquired under rti, as on 2004, Sule Bhalchandra Sadananad and Sule Sadanand Surpiya, son-in-law and daughter of Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, jointly held 749,000 equity shares and 2.9 million redeemable preference shares of Lavasa Corporation. It is also alleged that other promoters of the Lavasa are close associates of Pawar.

“We unearthed a scam but no one is ready to take any action… When local media reported on this nexus, the Sule duo withdrew from the project in 2006. But the project is going on in full swing with five-star hotels springing up in Lavasa,” says activist-cum-corporator Bhapkar, who filed the rti applications.

The nexus continues to run deep. To clear this massive hill station development, rules were modified to accord clearance to Lavasa project (see timeline: A plan made to order). According to media reports, various departments of the Maharashtra government gave 31 no objection certificates to the Lavasa project within a year. Further, mkvdc has given clearance to Lavasa Corporation to build four private mini dams upstream of its own Warasgaon dam. These mini dams are the only source of water for entire Lavasa. Documents acquired under rti also show that Ajit Pawar, the then chairperson of mkvdc, gave clearances for these mini dams in 2002. Ajit Pawar sanctioned 141.15 ha of mkvdc’s land to the company to build private dams. This land has been given on lease for 30 years at a little over Rs 82 lakh for the period. This is pittance compared to the money involved in Lavasa and the profits expected of it, claims Kale of ncas.

JUNE 1990: Oldest reference to Lavasa-type hill station project in an interim report titled ‘Lake Woods’ by a Pune-based developer Chandras- Kane Group. The developer offered 1,200 plots in 15 villages of Mose valley
NOVEMBER 26, 1996: The urban development (ud) department of Maharashtra government passed
a ‘Special Regulation for Development of Tourist Resorts/Holiday Homes/Townships in Hill Station Type Areas’ allowing for development of tourism sites. “… the urban development department is empowered to declare any area at appropriate height, having suitable topographical features, for the purposes of development of Hill Station,” the notification said
A plan made to order
NOVEMBER 1997: Regional plan for Pune district suitably modified through ud department’s notification to make way for Lavasa project
2000: A new project in Mose valley titled Pearly Blue Lake Resorts Pvt Ltd floated by Aniruddha Deshpande, who is at present a shareholder in Lavasa Corporation
JUNE 2001: Maharashtra government vide a notification declares the area in the vicinity of Warasgaon dam as a hill station
2004: Pearly Blue Lake Resorts Pvt Ltd gets renamed as Lavasa

“The corporation has already constructed one private dam and there is no water downstream of this dam. Farmers have neither drinking water nor water for irrigation. The farmers downsteam recently attacked mkvdc and it was forced to release water. Imagine what will happen after all the four dams are constructed,” says Shedge of Mugaon village. A petition in the Bombay High Court challenged allocation of mkvdc’s land in 2006. The petition also said that mkvdc was not meant for commercial use and Lavasa was a purely commercial venture. The case is pending.

The company says it is building 12 mini dams in the area that will “add to the current capacity of the Warasgaon lake”. “These dams will be built at higher levels increasing the existing catchment capacity. We will create an additional water catchment of 0.9 thousand million cubic metres (tmc) of which 0.4 tmc will be used by Lavasa and 0.5 tmc will be released into the lake,” the spokesperson said.

Villagers say they have lost land to the project, company terms allegation baseless
But experts warn that water scarcity will not remain limited to downstream villages; it will also hit Pune city, as its water supply goes from this valley, called the Mose valley. “On the one hand, the government is destroying the present water source for Pune and on the other, it is seeking funds from the Centre for additional water supply,” says Pune corporator Bhapkar. Meanwhile, protests against the project have gathered steam. Villagers are demanding a Central Bureau of Investigation enquiry.

Looks like Lavasa will remain up in the air for now.

Date: 2009/4/21
Subject: [nbapresslist] Interim Report Release: Displacement in Sahayadri Region, Pune
To: nbapresslist@lists.riseup.net
APRIL 20, 2009
People's Commission of Inquiry
To Inquire into the land deals, land transfers and displacement due to dams and projects in the Sahyadri (mountaineous) region Pune, Maharashtra
Introduction and Background:
Thousands of displaced and affected people of various dams and projects from across Maharashtra; adivasis, dalits, farmers, fish workers, farm labourers, unorganized workers, hawkers and basti dwellers, who have been raising their demands for justice and rehabilitation and questioning the current paradigm of destruction and displacement, in the name of development, had gathered at Azad Maidan, Mumbai under the initiative of National Alliance of People’s Movements led by an activists Medha Patkar, Suniti S.R., Sampat Kale and others during 14th October 2008 to 21st October 2008. These included a large number of people affected by twelve dams and Lavasa Project in the Pune District of Maharashtra. After some dialogue with the concerned Ministers for
Rehabilitation and Revenue and officials of these Departments, they felt agitated with the inadequate response and hence announced a Peoples' Commission of Inquiry into the land deals & transfers, water use and displacement of the people affected by twelve dams and Lavasa Project.
In the year 2000, February 11, the Lavasa Corporation was originally registered as Pearly Blue Lake Resort Private Limited Company with Aniruddha Deshpande, Vitthal Maniyar, and Aniruddha Seolekar as its first directors. The project was a hotel business with development of land in large scale on the banks of Warasgaon Lake in Mose Valley, block- Mulshi, district- Pune. The firm changed its name to The Lake City Corporation Pvt Ltd on December 12, 2000, with Aniruddh Deshpande, Aniruddh Seulkar , Vitthal Maniyar , Ganpat Investment and holdings, Venketshwar Hatcheris, Sadanad Sule, Supriya Sule, and few others were the shareholders. Later company changed its name to Lavasa Corporation Limited (International Securities Identification Number- INE172G01016) in June 2004. The Hill Station project is being driven by a consortium of companies led by Hindustan Construction Corporation, which is holding 65 per cent in Lavasa through its real estate subsidiary — HCC Realty. The other investors include the LM Thapar group and Venkateshwara Hatcheries, besides other minority shareholders who hold 35 per cent equity.
The Project
Lavasa Hill Township is one among many big projects sprawled at the fringes of Pune City. Amidst 18 hills, 975 meters above sea level it is situated at a distance of 65 k.m. from Pune. On 25th November 1997 Government of Maharashtra had sanctioned Regional Plan for the Pune district under section 15 of the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act 1966 (MRTP). Lavasa hill Station is sanctioned under section 20 (3) of MRTP on 15th July 2000 by the Urban Development Department. The Urban Development Department under Notification No.
TPS-1800/1004/ CR-106/2000/UD-13 dated 01/06/2001, declared 18 villages in Mulshi and Velhe Block for Hill Station Development under Lavasa. A Project on the 25000 acres of land is undertaken by the Lavasa Corporation. In two blocks, Mulshi and Velhe, altogether 20 villages are reeling under severe stress of eviction, forced land alienation, undue harassment by the project officials on account of project development, cheating by the company agents, obstruction to community access to fresh water bodies, and river water and temples, common roads as well as destruction of natural habitat and forest.

Population in these villages belongs to the marginalized communities of Dhangar, Koli, Thakar, Katkari and Maratha. The people are poor marginal farmers depending heavily on traditional farming techniques, livestock rearing, collection of non-timber forest produce, fishing, wage labour and dependence on other natural resources. Though communities have been living in this area since generations it was in 1964 that the poor landless and socio-economically backward families were allotted excess ceiling lands under Maharashtra Agricultural Lands (Ceiling on Holdings) Act, 1961. Without any support from the government the poor farmers made it cultivable and survived on it. However, in 1974 Warasgaon dam was constructed and the same displaced families in villages of which few families were rehabilitated with land in Daund (125km from Pune), but a good number of families were left in the affected area without rehabilitatation. Now Lavasa township project has brought back the uncertainties by forcing them to evict these people from their remaining lands and acquired lands in this area for its hill township project targeting upper middle class and upper class as its consumers and beneficiaries. Villages Affected in Mulshi Block : (Total 17)
1.Dasve 2.Mugaon 3.Lavharde 4.Vegre 5.Bhode 6.Patharshet 7.Bombatmal 8.Palase 9.Adamal 10.Padalghar 11.Wadavli 12.Sakhari 13.Bhoini 14.Koloshi 15.Ugavali 16.Dhamalhol 17.Gadale
Villages Affected in Velhe tehsil : (Total 3)
1.Mose Budruk 2.Shiv Budruk 3.Varasgaon
As per the letter written by the District Collector, Pune, Dated 04/07/2001 (Annexure 1), to Mr. Aniruddha Deshpande, Director, The Lake City Corporation Pvt. Ltd., the Urban Development Department by Notification No. TPS-1800/1004/ CR-106/2000/UD-13 dated 31/05/2001 (Annexure 2) had declared the project as a Hill Station. Under Notification No.TPS1896/1231/CR-123/96/UD-13 dated 26/11/1996 the project was sanctioned and declared that it will consist of Tourist Resorts/ Holiday Homes/ Townships in Hill Station. Conditions offered were as follows (Annexure 1):
“1. Under Aforesaid Rule No. 17 it is suggested that without any consent from the competent authority the lands of Adivasis will not be acquired and transferred. Apart from this other private lands can be acquired or purchased without any permission.
2. In order to develop the facilities project proposed it can acquire land type/category 1 (Bhogwata Varga (class)Kramank-1). The conditions mentioned in the Rule above have to be fulfilled by the company.
3. Forest land which has been affected by various development projects like due to dam’s construction could be acquired by taking permission from the competent authority.
4. Whether the Class-2 lands or the government’s lands such as Adivasi land, Watani land, Tenancy land, Devasthan Land, sites reserved for Rehabilitation etc. cannot be acquired without permission of the competent
authority. But if these lands have to be transferred for non-agricultural purposes, then the company has to surrender 50% amount (Nazrana) of total land price to the Government.
5. As per the Urban Development Department Notification No. TPS-1896/1231/CR-123/96/UD/13, Dated 26/11/1996, to develop tourist resorts, holiday homes and township buildings, the rules and regulations should be
followed. In case of any type of land on which cases of any civil or judicial procedures or any court stay is pending that land cannot be purchased.
6. The company has to observe Maharashtra Land Revenue Legislation 1996, Section 44 A, for any land acquisition. If the land is already demarcated under the Land Acquisition Act 1894, or MIDC Act 1961, Road Plan 1981 to 2001 it cannot be purchased for above project purposes.
7. It is mandatory to follow the Rules mentioned in the Government issued Notification regarding Construction, Catchment Area Rule, Irrigation project Rules, Environmental Rules, Health Related Rules, Public Security and Peace related Rules, Tenancy Rules, Maharashtra Land Revenue Act 1966 and State and Central Government’s Legislations and Rules related to the land.
8. As and when required, the company has to seek permission from the Department of Archeological Survey.
9. The company is barred from claiming any right over and disturbance to resources such as water streams, other water bodies like ponds, dams, fresh water flowing sources, natural springs etc.
10. Company cannot claim rights on the civic amenities such as bodies with traditional riparian rights, public roads, lanes, roadways etc.”
The People’s Commission in its detailed investigation found that the conditions mentioned above have been grossly violated by the company and overruled by the district administration, MKVDC, Urban Planning Department, Revenue Department, Forest Department, Pollution Control Board and the State government. The project has been strongly supported by the State by using authority vested in it. The State has the responsibility to protect the rights of the marginalised and not to support project of this scale which has no intention other than making profit by serving the rich elite class. The project clearance and other preferences given to the project in all matters including land allotment, the environmental clearance granted. forest clearance granted, subsidies offered, undue advantage of using district administration, revenue department and police for project purpose has raised serious doubt about the intention of the Government of Maharashtra and the role it played with regard to the Lavasa Project.
Illegal Land Transfer
The Government of Maharashtra has declared total 25000 acres of land from 20 villages for the development of the Lavasa hill station project. The Corporation may be further allowed to add 12000 acres of land from the above-said area if required. The Lavasa Corporation proposed to build eight weirs (walls that control the flow of water) in the backwaters of the Warasgaon dam for commercial use of water, roads, tanks, parks. Plans include 10 captive mini-dams (5 in Dasve Village and 5 in Dhamanowhal) (Annexure 4), helipads, ropeways and luxury hotels, etc.
The land transfer is done by three different departments involving Irrigation (Maharashtra Krishna Valley Development Corporation) department, Forest department and Revenue department for the intended projects. This involves allotment of 2,500 acres of plantation land of two blocks already allotted by the forest department. The acquisition of forest land resulted into destruction of forest and local ecology which has now become a major concern. The Lavasa Corporation has also been given approximately 1,042 acres of Government land at a nominal price.
Transfer of land and water from Krishna Valley Development Corporation
In the lease agreement dated August 28, 2002 (Annexure 3), the Khadakvasla Irrigation Division allotted 141.15 hectares land belonging to the Maharashtra Krishna Valley Development Corporation on lease for 30 years from the date of September 2, 2002, to the Lake City Corporation at royalty of as low as Rs. 2,75,250 only per annum. The company has also got permission from the Khadakvasla Irrigation Division to use water of Warasgaon and Temghar Dam. A PIL against this move of the Irrigation department is filed in the Mumbai High Court since November 15, 2006.
As per the PIL there are several irregularities found in the governmental support Lavasa Corporation.'s As per the rules, excess land acquired under Maharashtra Krishna Valley Development Corporation could only be used and transferred for any other ‘public Purpose’ and not for the private use. The PIL has challenged transfer of 141.15 hectares of MKVDC to the LAVASA Corporation on the ground of undue political favoritism, which is in violation of the Rules.
It is worth noting that the land which MKVDC transferred to the Lake City Corporation was belonging to the villagers displaced during the construction of Warasgaon Dam in 70’s. There was about 800 and more acres of extra land, which was acquired for the Warasgaon dam Project. At least 50 originally displaced families and 50 more who became entitled later; altogether about 100 families remain to be allotted land for rehabilitation. Some of them had infact even paid 1/4th of the cost of the alternative land to be allotted. The extra land was obviously to be used for these affected families who had the first right. Instead, the land was transferred to Lavasa which is grossly illegal. Since then several applications and appeals have been made by the villagers to the Irrigation Department to hand over the unutilised remaining land back to the families. But the Department did not pay any heed to the requests of the poor farmers and without any delay the same land was given to the Company within a span of three days of signing the MoU.
The question is also about the price and the process by which this land was given to the Company. The prevalent market rate of such lease for 142 hectares land is estimated to be around Rs. 900 Crores which would have been enough for the Government and MKVDC to complete all their unfinished projects. The Company has also obtained rights to build 10 captive mini-dams, 5 in Dasve Village and 5 in Dhamanowhal. For this the MoU has been done between the Company and Khadakvasla Irrigation Division & Chief Engineer, Konkan. The purpose of these dams is to store and use 1,031 TMC (Das.Laksh.Ghan.foot) water for commercial purposes. This will interfere in the natural flow and storage of water in the neighbouring villages and valley. (Annexure 4)
Notable is the fact that the Khadakvasla reservoir on Mose River was constructed to fulfill Pune city water requirement. The capacity of the reservoir is around 11.5 TMC almost equal to what Pune need in a year. With city like Pune growing at a fast pace has been experiencing water scarcity in several areas. In such situation permission of such massive utilization of water by the Lavasa Corporation, not only for drinking purposes but also for water sports, hotels etc., will result in sever water crisis in the long run for Pune city. An impact assessment in this regard would have helped in better future planning of water use and justified to the purpose this reservoir has been built for.

Case of Ceiling Land Transfer to the Company

As per the Maharashtra Agricultural Lands (Ceiling on Holdings) Act, 1961,
Article 27, ceiling land should be acquired and distributed by the State among landless, poor and socially deprived people. However, the District Collector (letter dated 05/03/2005) Revenue Department (Annexure 5), Pune expressed a different opinion in this regard, since it clearly states that “if these lands amounting to 373 hectares could have been distributed to the poor people the Government could have benefited by only Rs. 1,02,736. However, if theselands would be given to the Lavasa Corporation that will fetch Rs. 1,64,71,178 to the Government according to the Ready-reckoner”. To whom would th e benefits flow, seems to be immaterial. This explains the apathy of the State Government and the Revenue Department towards the duties assigned under the Land Reform legislations.
A letter written by the District Collector, Pune to the Revenue Department, Pune dated 09/01/2005 to approve land belonging to the villages Mauje Gadale, Dhamanohol, Mugaon, Wadiwale for The Lake City Corporation shows the responses given by the Revenue Department in violation of the Maharashtra Agricultural Lands (Ceiling on Holdings) Act, 1961, Article 27.
1.“As per the letter No. ICH-2204/CR-38/ L-7, dated 06/08/2004 the Point No 1 about possession of excess land total of 405.42 ha from the area. Explanation- In 1976 in these villages (Attached Page No 273 to 277) total 372 ha.23 are was found in excess but was not taken under possession by the State under Ceiling Act Section21 (4). Now due to lack of any documentary evidence in this relation we are unable to say as to why these lands were not acquired then, which was necessary.
2.What could be the Rate of payment (compensation) for excess land declared, if it is taken over? Explanation- As per Section 23(A) of the Maharashtra Agricultural Lands (Ceiling on Holdings) Act, 1961, rate of Rs. 150/ha. is suggested for unirrigated wasteland, which would be Rs. 55,8535for total of 372.23 ha. and the interest on this at the rate of 3% for 28 years would be Rs. 46,900, so total compensation would be around Rs 1,02,736/.

3.Has this land been declared unsuitable for agriculture? Explanation- No. The 7/12 extract of the land shows that the land is lying barren. These lands appear to be not very fertile and the quality of the land is low. Though this land was not declared 'uncultivable', but it seems to beunsuitable for agriculture. The Department of Agriculture could also be asked ,for further assessment.
4.As per Maharashtra Agricultural Lands (Ceiling on Holdings) Act, 1961 why was this land was given to The Lake City Corporation and not to the landless poor Explanation- If this land was given to the landless then only Rs 1,02,736/ would be earned but when this land is given to the The Lake City Corporation according to the current ready reckoner the total value of land would be 75% higher, approximately Rs 1,64, 71,178/-, which would be deposited in theGovernment account.
5.As per Maharashtra Agricultural Lands (Ceiling on Holdings) Act, 1961, Section 29, Rule 12, this land could be transferred for non-agricultural purposes.(Annexure- 5)
While granting unlimited favours to the company, the Maharashtra Government and its authorities functioned with a surprising high pace speed which is unknown otherwise. The above mentioned excerpt from the letter exhibits that the Revenue Department and the District Collector were inactive and apathetic for 30 years when they were supposed to have to acquired and distributed, the excess ceiling land, identified in 1976, to the landless poor, which they didn't do. However, when it had to be transferred to the Lavasa Corporation they acted within the remarkably shortest span of three months!
The compensation paid to the farmers by the Revenue Department for this excess ceiling land was fixed at the rate of Rs. 60/acre. Worth mentioning is that in the year 1955 the prevalent rate per acre land was Rs. 27. While today elsewhere land rates have sky rocketed how come the rates in this area remained static in last 60 years? As per the market estimates the current going rate for the area would be approximately Rs. 1 Crore per acre.
Moreover, the company has been given full Stamp Duty exemption as per the Maharashtra Government’s Notification issued on 07/04/1999 (Annexure 6). The Notification provides for Stamp Study exemption for all upcoming industrial projects. This is stated in the letter dated 24/09/2002 signed by the District Stamp Duty Collectorate. This has resulted in a loss of Rs. 20 Crores to the State by way of the Stamp Duty exemption.
The District Stamp Duty Collectorate which otherwise has a reputation of delaying the processes surprisingly granted the permission of Stamp Duty exemption to the application made by the Lavasa Corporation. The permission was granted within a day. The Company filed an application in this regard on September 24, 2002 and received permission on September 25, 2002.
One needs to question the State of Maharashtra and Pune District Administration that while transferring excess ceiling land to the Lavasa Corporation instead of the landless villagers the Administration looked interested in making profits. However, at the same time they lost huge money by exempting Stamp Duty which could have been paid by the Lavasa Corporation easily.
Transfer of Forest Land to the Lavasa Corporation The Lavasa Corporation was allowed to cut lakhs of trees to build approach road and undertake construction activity. The 28 km approach road to Lavasa is being developed by cutting trees and hills. The forest department is not willing to disclose the facts in this regard.
Environmental Clearance
Smart enough, Lavasa Corporation has been projecting that it will construct to the height above 1000 meters to avoid seeking environmental clearance from the Central Ministry of Forest and Environment. However, a letter dated 13/11/1997 written by Urban Development Department, Pune to Chief Secretary, Urban Development Department, Mumbai clearly mentions that the height of the project is 975 meters. Surprisingly, It received clearance from the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board and not from the Central Government which is required as per the Rules. However, the Urban Planning Department has now directed Lavasa Corporation to seek environmental clearance from the Central Government considering its massive scale of Infrastructure Development.
The Urban Planning Department, Pune and Mahrashtra State Pollution Control Board did not reply to the RTI filed in this regard on behalf of the People’s Commission. It is surprising to note that why these Government Departments are maintaining secrecy in case of Lavasa Corporation.
A Project of this magnitude, would require Environmental Clearance under the Environment Impact Assessment Notification of 1994 which is a central law and which law was prevailing when the said project came into being. The fact that the State Government has permitted the Corporation to set-up a hill station in no way can preclude the liability of taking an Environmental Clearance. The process of according Environmental Clearance is comprehensive in scope. It involves public hearing and an assessment done by a full body of experts. An entire scheme of the rehabilitation of the displaced persons has to be satisfactorily placed on record. The legality of the scheme would also have to be duly considered. For, if there is any legal lacunae, in that case, there could be adverse environmental implications. It is also apparent that to commence work without Environmental Clearance is an infringement of the Environment Protection Act, 1986, which involves criminal as well as civil consequences. Such action has become desirable at this stage against the perpetrators of the violations.
Illegal means and Coercion Used in private Land Acquisition
The Lavasa corporation went in for direct purchase from its owners. From the complaints made by the farmers and villagers it is transpired that the company used various tactics for grabbing the land from the illiterate and poor people. There are many instances of fraudulent deals. The process of land grab was done by the agents of the company, creating proxy farmers and relatives, presenting fraud witnesses, forging land record, changing land records and corruption in collusion with the administration.
The company had looped several real estate agents to purchase land for a sum low at Rs.500/- to Rs.5000/- from the poor Adivasi, Dhangar, Koli and Maratha’s. They were made to believe that the low payment done to them was an initial token payment and they shall be given proper price at the time of final land transfer Deed writing. By making low initial payment and giving false assurances for making large payment in future the company officers or agentsobtained the signatures of the farmers on the sale agreements.
In most of the cases they had purchased 2 acres of land but made registration of 10 to 17 acres of land. It was also brought to the notice of the People’s Commission that the land records of a previous dates shows ownership of land in the name of local family but records of a nearby dates shows change in names.
In Mugaon village alone there are 67 tribal families who had lost 330 acres of land without receiving any amount of compensation. They were forcibly evicted from their land. When they went for enquiry to the Talathi office they found that the new land records do not reflect their names.
The farmers were also promised jobs in the company, provision of many basic amenities for inducing them to give away their land to the company. In Dasve Village where Lavasa is building its first phase is classic example of cheating done by the Company with the local people. A source close to the Company disclosed that the villagers of Dasve had their meeting with the Lavasa Corporation when it had started construction activity few years back. TheCompany wanted Dasve to be vacated for the project. In a common village meeting the Company made promises of building Gaothan, housing society, school and a hospital for the villagers in return of the land transfer but later when the Company got its entry in village it simply forced villagers to evict. Today it is difficult to locate families earlier residing in Dasve, they have been forced to vacate the area and shift.
Mr. Ankush Shedge from Mugaon complained to the People’s Commission that more than 80% of the land deals are fraudulent in nature and effected by committing frauds on local people. Mr.Shedge, Mr. Bhikule, Mr.Rodage and other 4 farmers from village Mugoan had submitted a representation to the People’s Commission and requested to seek justice for them.
In sum and substance it was stated by them Lavasa Corporation is in the process of grabbing the land of the poor farmers by illegal means and have committed fraud on government record. The Corporation with the help of its agents is cheating these farmers and effecting sale of their land in favour of Corporation by committing fraud upon them.
Among other things they have made following complaints- 1. No employment has been provided by the Corporation to the member of the family of those farmers who were made to sell their land on this condition.
2. No Gavthan land was created for resettlement and rehabilitation of the displaced persons whose land have been acquired by the Corporartion.
3. Acquired land was given on lease by the Corporation but it had not paid Government dues, and now lands have been taken over by the Corporation rendering those farmers landless.
4. Those land which was allotted by Government to ST(Katkari Community)persons have been illegally and without due permission were purchased by the Corporation.
5. Surplus Land and land held by Government for public purpose have been unauthorizdly taken over by the Corporation from the farmers cultivating it without paying compensation.
6. Corporation made the farmers to sell their land under duress and compulsion falsely giving assurance that they would be given alternative land. No such alternative land was given.
7. Corporation had made unjust and discriminatory payment of price of the land which was too low. Sales were effected through the land mafia agents of the Corporation who in fact cheated the farmers.
8. Devasthan lands were also acquired by the Corporation but no provision is made for creation and maintenance of Devasthan.
The People’s Commission has examined these grievances of the farmers with assistance of following documents-
1. Copy of representation by farmers 2.7/12 extracts 3. Extracts of Mutation Entries 4. Copy of a statement made by a farmer to the Tehsildar Mulsi(Paud) 5. Sale Deeds
The farmers claim to represent all farmers from following villages
Block: Mulshi Dist: Pune
Baji Pasalkar Dam Project
Mose Brudruk
Representative Case Studies Indicating Various Mehtods of Land Farud
1)land Survey No. 60- A case of Group Ownership of Land transferred by Few owners Writing Power of Attorney
Shedge,Bhikule and Dhone families own a piece of land Survey No. 60 admeasuringH.48.88+H.12.14= H.55.2 Which is situated at and within the outskirts of village Mugaon. There are 38 shareholders of this land from the above-said families who are joint holders of the land. Some of the holders appears to have appointed power of attorney who shall deal with the transactions in respect of their shares of land in survey no.60 on behalf of them.
The persons involved in these transactions who were appointed as power of attorney--
1.Milind Anand Kale 2.Selestile Properties represented by Arvind Gauda 3.R.Vijeyandra Rao4.Rupali Sagar Potfode(Nijampurkar) 5.Suresh Pendharkar 6.Suresh Barate 7.Mangal Subhash More 8.Anita Varate 9.Aruna Raut 10.Avinash More 11.Subhash More 12.Surekha Borawake 13.Kailas Bhosale 14.Mahesh Ghume
2)Survey no. 18/5 and survey no. 26/10- Individual Land transferred under Power of Attorney where the Owner was uninformed A very interesting transaction that took place between shri Tukaram Kondu Bhikule and one Sandhya Sampatrao Salunke. Tukaram Kondu Bhikole is a resident of a Mugaon and was the owner of the land Survey no. 18/5 and survey no. 26/10 at village Mugaon in Talshil Mulshi Dist.Pune . In the sale deed the land havedescribed as undivided. The price of the land stated is Rs.32000=00. The price was not paid before the Registrar.
It is surprising; factually land was sold by one Sau.Vidhya Samptrao Salunke who is described as a power of attorney of Tukaram Kondu Bhikole in the sale deed, to Sandhya Samptrao Salunke. It is apparent that both Vidhya Samptrao Salunke and Sandhya Samptrao Salunke are from the same family and both are residing on the same address and house at Karve Nagar, Pune. It is also apparent the price paid for the land is below the prevaling market price of the land .
The above mentioned transaction is highly suspicious, doubtful and fraudulent and immediate inquiry on this behalf should be initiated and said transaction should be cancelled. Later on mutation entry no.675 made in respect of above said land survey nos 18/5 and 26/10 disclose that one Anirudha Uttam Yevlekar had purchased it for his minor son Kunal on 15/01/2001. This transaction was effected by Vidhya Sampatrao Salunke as being the power of attorney of Sandhya Samprao Salunke. Now this land was sold for the price of Rs.59000=00.
Later on the Lake City Corporation Pvt. Ltd. have purchased these land on 20/09/2003 from Yewalekar. The transaction was effected by one Umesh Shripad Kalskar who acted as power of attorney of Yewalekar. Yewalekar sold this land to the Corporation for Rs.2,61976=00. It is also surprising that all these mutation entries no. 588,675and 811 have been made by Talathi or Circle Officer with supersonic speed that no sooner information was given to Talathi that entry was made. In ordinary course it is an experience of common man thatusually it should take time of two months to six months or more. So far Lawasa Corporation is concerned the officers of revenue department in Pune District, I should say shown special favour to the Corporation, for the reasons best known to them.
3)Survey no. 31- A case of Inaam Land Usurped by the Lavasa The People’s Commssion examined the 7/12 extract of Survey no. 31 of village Mugaon. A complaint has been made by Dhondiba Kondiba Margale of village Mugaon in tahsil Mulshi District Pune. In this complaint the complainant Dondiba has stated that his father Kondiba alias Kondu Babu Mergale had purchased a portion of land 16 acers from survey no. 36/01 in the year 1967. He also stated that another land 40 Ackers 38 Guntha from survey no.31/01 was also purchased by him and was in the possession of his father. His father died on 15/01/1995.
It was Inaam Land and no re-grant of it was made by the Government to Kondiba .
One Arvind Gauda representing himself as a secretary of Mugaon Van Vikas Sahkari Sanstha, had purchased the land of many farmers. However on enquiry he told that he did not purchased the land of Dhondiba Kondiba and had not sold to anyone. Now the employees of Lavasa Corporation approached the complainant Dhondiba and told him that, for the purpose of development of hills, a road should be made through his land that also assured that Corporation does not claim any ownership of the land, and if it had to purchase, the purchase would be effected legally after negotiations. The Corporation had then made a road through his land inspite of objections raised by Dhondiba. When complainant approached the Corporation he was informed that land already belongs to the Corporation and it had purchased it from Arvind Gauda. Complainant was also threatened by officers of the Corporations that if he continue to insist, the police action would be taken against him. They also informed that the complainant his name is also not appearing in 7/12 extracts. The officers also told the complainant that they should accept the amounts, what ever that may bepaid by the Corporation.
7/12 extracts of survey no.31 disclosed that the transfers of land have been effected one after another the recent transfers have been made between Sujat Kammruddin Sodagar and Sakshri Mangesg Dixit then between Dixit and prakash Atamram Raisone and then between Raisone and Visdhya Sampat Salunke and between Mrs. Josaif.After that there are numbers of transfers of land. The same story can be repeated in respect of another land survey no.36.
In fact, as it appears from a sale deed of survey no.31/01 dated 22/01/1969, the land survey no.31/01 was admeasuring about 40 Acers 38 Guntha, was purchased by Kondu (Kondiba) Babu Mergale ( The father of Complainant Dhondiba Kondiba ) from one Shankarrao Bhaurao Pashalkar. Shocking enough, that in the 7/12 extract of land survey no 31. The name Kondibe alias Kondu does not appear at all and the said transfer has not been shown in it or had been registered in it. . It is a registered sale deed . Therefore name of the purchaser Kondiba Mergale and after his death the names of the of Kondiba Mergale should have be recorded in 7/12 extract in respect of survey no 31/01 as per the established procedure.
4)Survey no. 36- A case of Fraud done in nexus of Lavasa and Tehsildar The 7/12/exract of survey no 36 is also missing the name of the complainant and his father.
It is complaint of Dondhiba K. Mergale, though they are in physical possession of both the lands, Survey nos.31/1 and 36, continuously since the life time of his father Kondiba alias Kondu, and after his death they do not know why their name of missing as holder of the land in 7/12 extracts concerning both the land .They had made inquires regarding old record of the land with concerned government officers, how ever they were told that the record is not available.
The Margale family belongs to Dhangar community which is traditionally nomadic tribe, and uneducated, illiterate and socially and economically backward community.
It is clear that undue advantage of their backwardness have be taken by the agents and officers of Lavasa Corporation and very serious fraud have been committed by them in respect of revenue record by forging it for taking such advantage.
The People’s Commission found much substance in the complaint of Dohdiba K. Margale and therefore suggests immediate inquiry in this regard. Dohdiba should also be provided 7/12 exracts of both the lands since 1965 to 2009 and copies of all mutation entries, those have been made in respect of survey no.31/01 and survey no.36 immediately.
5)Survey no. 71/1- A case of overriding ownership rights by the Company by presenting false Sale Deed
It has been complained by Shri Ramchandra Sakharam Shedage R/o. Admal in Tahsil Mushi Dist-Pune that he owns a land survey no. 71/1 at village Admal.
The Lawasa Corporation has illegally made the purchase of the land from the heirs of one Baburao Maruti Parit, who had sold the land to the father of Mr.Shedage in the year 1997.
As per the complaint the land though it was purchased by his father Rambhau Shedage in the year 1997, in fact his father was cultivating it since the year 1980..
It has been also stated by the complainant that since the year 1980 name of the father of the complainant Rambhau Shedage was also entered in 7/12 extract in crop-cultivation column as the cultivator. The land was continuously and without any interruption was under the possession and enjoyment of father of Mr.Shedage and after him he himself was cultivating it..
In the year 1997 an agreement for sale was also executed between Rambhau Sakharam Shedage and Balu Maruti Parit. Rambhau Shedage had paid the complete price of the land s to Balu Parit.
In such circumstances the Lavasa Corporation decided to purchase above-mentioned land 71/01. Therefore the complainant Ramchadra Shedage, who is in the possession of the land raised an objection to the transfer of the land to Lavasa Corporation. He had made his objection by a public notice published in news paper and a legal notice dated 04/02/2008 issued through his lawyer. He had also visited a office of Lavasa Corporation and objected the purchase of the land by them. The Lavasa Corporation, as per the say of the complainant hadpurchased the land from the heirs of Babu M. Pari t(who had already sold the land in his lifetime in the year1997 to Rambhau Shedge) by a registered sale deed.
The 7/12 extract of the land disclose that name of the father of complainant Rambhau Shedage in crop-cultivation column.
In above circumstances, the land could not be purchased from the heirs of Baburao Parit and the possession of the land can not be taken by the Lavasa Corporation from the complainant Ramchandra Shedage forcibly. The complainant should have been approached by Lavasa Corporation before going into the purchase of land. The approach of the Lavasa Corporation is therefore questionable and it is using illegal means to get transfer of the land to them and using illegal means to acquire those lands and to create their title in it. This sale of land to Lavasa is out rightly void ab initio, and is no sale in the eye of law and Lavasa has no title in it. It should be quashed forthwith as being fraudulent and bogus.
6)Survey nos. 56/1/2, 25/1/2, 26/1/2, 45/1/2, 72/3/2 & 73/1/2 - A case of Joint Hindu Family Ownership Land Transfer without the consent of all stakeholders
The land Survey nos. 56/1/2, 25/1/2, 26/1/2, 45/1/2, 72/3/2 & 73/1/2 are the properties ancestral property of Dabade family R/o Wadgaon Budruk, Tal-Haveli Dist-Pune. The land was standing in the name of late Nathu Tulsa Dabade who is the father of complainant Prakash Dabade. After the death of Nathu Tulsa Dabade the names of heirs were entered in 7/12 extract in holders column. The land was as such owned and possessed jointly by the succeeding heirs. There was no partition of the land.
How ever one of the heirs Dattu N.Dabade decided to sale out his undefined share of land without the consent of other joint holder of the land. He had appointed one Prakash Vasant Kale as his power of attorney to effect the sale of the land.
Prakash V. Kale then sold out the land to Nilambari Sunil Joshi and Sharadchrandra Khire by a registered sale deed dated 22/02/2001. It s the complaint of Prakash N. Dabade that Dattu N. Dabade was manager of joint hindu family and he had no authority to sale out above-mentioned land without the consent of other joint holders.
Later on as 7/12 extract disclose that Nilambari S.Joshi Sharadchrandra Khire and sold out the above said land to Lawasa Corporation.
As such the purchase of land was made of Lavasa Corporation through their agent without showing any regard to the rights and interest of the other members of the family, and joining hand with one of the member of such family. After completing such illegal transactions it appears that the Revenue Authorities Talathi, Circle Officers and Tahsildar are very prompt in recording the entries in the name of agents of the Lawasa Corporation and the Corporationitself.
It has also being transpired that the entries in the name of agents of the Corporation have been made without serving any due notice to the holder of the land and members of joint holding and without any inquiry by Tahsildar.
The Registrar who registered the sale deed also did not examine the fact whether the person selling of the land had authority or competency to effect that sale of the land.
In this case the behavior of the all responsible officer is very much questionable and constitutes a sufficient ground to suspect that they had joined hands with agents or Lavasa Corporation or Corporation and are party to this illegal, unethical and immoral transaction.
7)Survey no. 38/1, 72/3/2, 73/1/2, and 26/1/2 – A case of false sales deed later land transferred to the Lavasa Corporation
It is the complaint of Shankar Gopala Dabade of Padegaon Tal-Daund, Dist-Pune that he owns agricultural land Survey nos. 38/1, 72/3/2, 73/1/2, and 26/1/2 at village Bhoyani in Talsil Mulshi Dist-Pune which is his ancestral property . He has made very serious complaint when the above-mentioned land was never sold out by him to anybody, a registered sale deed of the land have been done and it was transferred to the name of other person. He has becomelandless. He complaints that a fraud has been committed in respect of his property and he has been cheated. After knowing that a bogus sale deed have been done in connection with his land he made the inquiry and what transpired to him was this-
1.There is no signature of Sub-Register on the sale deed.
2.Sale deed was signed by the power of attorney of the owner. And copy of power
of attorney is not attached to the sale deed.
3.The changes in the 7/12 extract have been made without any notice to him and without his consent.
The complainant assertively states that he did never execute any power of attorney in the name of any person and much less in the name of Prakash Kane who is absolutely unknown to him.
He therefore requested that the sale deed of his land being fraudulent and bogus and it should be cancelled.
The People’s Commission found that one Prakash Vasant Kane had signed the sale deed on behalf complaint Shankar .G. Dabade as his power of attorney and sold the land to Nilambari S. Joshi and Sharadchandra Khire.
The People’s Commission also found that there is no signature of Sub –Registrar. It also examined the 7/12 extract and came to the conclusion the land is certainly an ancestral property of the complaint and the names of the purchaser has been entered in the 7/12 extract vide M. E. no 421 and 438.The mutation entry again disclose that on 7/3/2001 the Talathi was informed about the transaction and he has recorded the mutation on 8/3/2001.The Talathi also mentioned the purchaser Nilambari Joshi and S. Khire is agriculturist (which is very doubtful).It appears no personal notice was served upon the original holder the land an no inquiry had been done before effecting the mutation. Therefore the mutation entry 421 should be got cancelled.
Obviously it is a case of outright fraud on record and sale deed needs to be cancelled forthwith.
8) Survey No. 31 and 34- A case of individual land transferred under fraud Leelabai Bandu Margale’s father in law , village-Mugaon, had received 57 acres of Land under Maharashtra Land Ceiling Act in 1969. The family has been cultivating and using the area for past 40 years. Now Lavasa Corporation is harassing this family to vacate the land. She has been facing harassment by the Company regularly. She has been trying to file a case against harassment with the Police but the police department is not at all paying attention to hercomplaints and has been favouring the Lavasa Corporation. This has strengthened Lavasa workers to encroach and forcibly construct road on her property.
It is worth mentioning that Leelabai is a widow and has three children to take care. She has been fighting against forced eviction with no help from the State department even after repeated appeals have been made to the Divisional Commissioner and District Collector, Pune.
The People’s Commission is shocked to hear this case. This is highly undemocratic. The role of the District Administration and Police is highly questionable.
Political Highhandedness
As mentioned earlier The Lake City Corporation Pvt Ltd . (now Lavasa Corporation Ltd.) has been receiving abundant favours because of its stakeholders profile. Sadanand Sule (son-in-law of Agriculture Minister Mr. Sharad Pawar), and Supriya Sule (daughter of Agriculture Minister Mr. Sharad Pawar), together were holdings 21.97% of total number of shares of the company in the Lake City Corporation. The company registered as Industry. Though it was not granted a status of Tourism Development Project by the Sate Government all concessions and facilities have been showered on the company as if it is a tourism development.
Ms. Supriya Sule and Sadanand Sule were the prominent shareholders in the company in 2002-04. On October 3, 2002, Sule was allotted 12.48 lakh equity shares and 26.64 lakh 6% redeemable preference shares by The Lake City Corporation Pvt Ltd. The other shareholders included close allies of Pawar and Sule family Aniruddha Deshpande, Vinay Vitthal Maniyar, Jyoti Bhale, Arvind Bhale, Hindustan Finvest Ltd, Srivenk Investments Ltd, Venkateshwara Hatcheries Ltd and Janpath Investment and Holdings Ltd.
The shareholding pattern changed in 2004 and as of October 6, 2004, Sadanand and Supriya Sule jointly held 7.49 lakh equity shares and 29.97 lakh 6% redeemable preference shares of the Lavasa Corporation with a face value of Rs10. Besides well-known associates of Sharad Pawar such as Aniruddha Deshpande, Vitthal Badrinarayan Maniyar, and members of their family, other shareholders at this point of time included Hindustan Construction Ltd (HCC),Janpath Investment & Holdings Ltd, Hindustan Finvest Ltd, and Venkateshwara Hatcheries Pvt Ltd.
This was reported by Times of India, Pune on January 14, 2006 based on the certified documents obtained from the Registrar of Companies (ROC) under provisions of the Companies Act, 1956, in possession of Times of India. Ms. Supria Sule, withdrew from Lavasa soon after January 2006 when public attention build up to the fact that the Congress- NCP government had worked to speed the of process of clearances accorded to the Lake City Corporation.
Another interesting aspect is the 30-year lease agreement reached between the Maharashtra Krishna Valley Development Corporation (MKVDC was then headed by NCP Minister Ajit Pawar) and the Lake city corporation on September 23, 2002. It is worth noting that Mr. Ajit Pawar was the Chairperson of Mahrashtra Krishna Valley Development Corporation from December 1999 to December 2004.
During the year 2002-2003 total 31 No Objection Certificates were granted to the Lake City Corporation (previous name of Lavasa Corporation) by various departments, such as the MKVDC, Konkan Irrigation Department, Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation and the Maharashtra pollution Control Board. These were for construction of mini dams and impounding water for commercial use, tree felling, quarrying, stone crushers and purchasing land for industrial use.
Lavasa a Fast-track project
Some of the crucial MoUs and clearances secured by the Lake City/Lavasa Corporation in 2002-03 from the Maharashtra government:
1) May 30, 2002: NOC (No BO/TB/RO (HQ) Pune -- 163/444) for development from the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board
2) June 5, 2002: MoU between Lake City Corporation and Maharashtra TourismDevelopment Corporation
3) July 4, 2002: Maharashtra Krishna Valley Development Corporation's (MKVDC) NOC (No TPD/ADM2/RBR/2543) to construct DTR
4) July 16, 2002: MKVDC's permission (No KID/ADM/4891/2002) to construct dams and store water.
5) August 9, 2002: Irrigation Department, Konkan region, NOC (No 89.01/(18/2002)/U-5/3074) to construct dams and store water
6) September 23, 2002: 30-year lease agreement between MKVDC and Lake CityCorporation for construction of mini-dams in the submergence of Warasgaon Dam and impounding of water for commercial use. (This agreement was brought to light by a Right to Information application by Pimpri-Chinchwad activist Maruti Sahebrao Bhapkar in December 2005)
7) December 11, 2002: Permission (No DI/Land Permission/255/2002 C-17386) fromindustries department to buy land for industrial purpose
8) December 13, 2002: NOC from the environment department (No ENV (NOC) 2000/765/CR.105/TC.1) for development
9) January 2, 2003: Forest department's tree-felling permission (No B/M/907/2002-03) for DTR/RFO Khanapur
10) January 10, 2003: Tree-felling permission from forest department (No 576/2002-03) for DTR/RFO, Paud
11) March 12, 2003: Land use certificate (No DDTP - Pune/Final RP Pune/Zone Cert/822) from the town-planning department
12) April 10, 2003: MKVDC permission (No PB-4/KID/91/203) to carry out preliminary works
13) July 15, 2003: Quarrying permission (No Mining/SR/391/2003) from revenue collector for Dasve
14) December 20, 2003: Irrigation Department (Konkan region) agreement to construct dams and store water
15) March 18, 2004: Environmental clearance (No ENV/cle/765/CR-105/TC.1) for project
Conclusions and Recommendations:
Amongst other favours granted by the Government some prominent favours are-
6.372 acres of government land vested in MKVDC, have been almost gifted by theGovernment to the company by leasing it to the company, for the period of 99 years at low premium as it could be. 7.912 acres of surplus land declared under the land ceiling law in the year 1975 but never acquired by the government for its distribution to landless, now with overwhelming zeal acquired under the ceiling law within the period of tree days, just to transfer it to Lavasa committing serious breach of provisions and mandates of the Ceiling act and also depriving landless from getting benefits of it.
8.112 acres of Inaam land which should have been re-granted after accepting statutory price from holders of the land, to them, under the provisions of the Inaam land laws has been illegally transferred to Lavasa on lease for 99 years at nominal premium. 9.The stamp fees have been exempted for transfer of lands to Lavasa putting Government at loss of Rs. 1000 to 5000 Crores. 10.Government has not yet recovered the royalty for extraction of minorminerals and utilization of them by Lavasa In the process of construction of roads and building activities all facilities of tourism projected or center have been endowed on the Lavasa
11.By the government, when the company is carrying on private industrial activities and earning profit of millions of rupees and established and registered for the industrial and commercial purpose. 12.Considering the size and category of the project the environmental clearance should have been obtained from the Central Ministry-MoEF.
While granting such favours to company the Government of Maharashtra was never slow, as it appears to utilize the services of its officers and staff for the benefit of the company to achieve its private purpose overlooking the injustice done to the villagers and farmers who lost their lands, the very source of livelihood, turning them almost to be beggars.
It is shocking, the collector Pune has recommended the government to pay compensation to the holders of the land whose land was acquired by it as surplus land under ceiling law, to be paid compensation at the rate of Rs.60 per Acre, that is Rs.1.50 for a guntha, While Lavasa can earn Rs.2 Crores after selling plot of the land admeasuring 500 Square Meters.
Why government has not taken any action against Lavasa for non payment of royalty for extraction of valuable minor minerals such as earth, Murum and sand and suffering loss of millions of rupees? While granting unlimited favours to the company the Maharashtra Government and its authorities functioned with surprising supersonic speed which is unknown otherwise.
And how government authorities were allowed to violate the provisions of ceiling law, tenancy law, easement law, Inaam land laws and environmental laws?
Why Government acted high handedly while granting exemption of Stamp duties on land transfers for and by Lavasa and suffered a loss again of Rs.1000 to 5000 crore?
And government had transfer public property that is government lands at throwaway prices or premiums to Lavasa and deprived the landless from getting those surplus lands to feed their belly? And who put it above law and for whose benefit? Our question is whether the Maharashtra Government would rise to its constitutional duties and obligations or succumb to the mandates of its political bigwigs?
Maharashtra Government should answer all these questions forthwith.
We, the People’s Commission of Inquiry on this case recommend that-
1)Immediate inquiry be held in respect of fraudulent and all suspicious land deals between Government and Lowasa by independent committee which shall include representatives of renowned social activists, and reputed judicial officers and headed by qualified non-governmental person having integrity and honesty
2)An inquiry should also be directed in respect of huge monetary losses suffered by the Government while granting huge concessions in respect of premium of lease, stamp revenue and royalty of minor minerals and those responsible for losses be punished.Losses should be directed to be recovered from Lavasa forthwith.
3)All that land declared surplus under ceiling laws be directed to be recovered from Lawasa forthwith and be distributed in order to landless and Backward classes, forthwith.
4)All that Inam land illegally transferred to Lavasa be directed to be recovered from it and regranted to original holders or their heirs.
5)All customary and easement rights in respect of public ways, approach roads, taking of drinking water and water for live-stalk, grazing lands, cremation grounds etc against the be inquired into and restored to the inhabitants of the area, in accordance with law.
6)Inquiry be also be direcred to investigate the fraudulent and illegal endowment of tourism facilities and concession when Lavasa was a private company engaged in commercial activities to earn profits and not engaged in any public works.
7)It should also be inquired and investigated who is the ‘Godfather”and how he blessed the company and why? 8)Based on the facts evolved in the enquiry, action under administrative,adjudicatory and criminal laws be taken against the perpetrators of the crime. Departmental action and also action under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 be taken against the Government officials without whose active help such violations on a mammoth scale would not have taken place.
9)An independent High level Inquiry is very much necessary in respect fraudulent private land deals by agents of the company with poor, illiterate and rustic farmers at throwaway prices and all such transactions be reviewed and either modified directing company to pay prevailing market price of the land to the owners or be cancelled.
10) If necessary ordinance be issued to achieve above mentioned object to give justice to poor farmers.
11)Rehabilitation of the project affected persons should be undertaken immediately.
TATA DAMS: A case of century old betrayal by the State – Corporate nexus: It was almost a century back that the Tatas, initially in the name of United Power Limited, later changed to Kundlik Power and Tata Hydro-Electric Power Supply and finally to Tata Power Company started dispossessing the poor farmers in the Maval and Mulshi tehsils of Pune district from their ancestral land for establishing its irrigation and hydro electric project .The story began in 1915 when the then British government entered into an agreement with Tata to acquire land for its electricity generation project.
An agreement dated 25 June 1918 was executed between Tata Power Company limited and the Secretary of the state for India in Council , wherein the government was to acquire land under the provisions of Land Acquisition Act, 189 for the company and the company was to pay the compensation to the owners of the land through government.
Since then Tata Power Company (as named, at present) had acquired a total of 45680 acres of land in Maval and Mulshi tehsils for the construction of its 6 dams; Sirvata, Somvadi, Valvan, Bhushi, Thokalwadi and Mulshi Petha.
In all 18 villages and 15 hamlets (Vadis) were submerged and affected due to this project. Tleast 3251 farmers were displaced . Unfortunately barring very few, almost majority of them did not receive any amount for compensation for their lands which was lost in the project.
Even today the members of the family i.e. descendants of the ancestors who were holding the land 100 years back when project was initiated by Tata, are living in a condition which is certainly below the line of poverty or many had to resort to migration at a great social and economic cost. Those who stayed back , and their successors the are still fighting for gettingcompensation and a place for dwelling which is denied to them even after the Independence . The Government of India and State Government did never care for them and did not take any steps for rehabilitation of these ill-fated families .
These projects affected families and persons belonged to Katkari (ST), Dhangar(NT), Maratha communities, most of which are economically backwards castes and / or classes.
We had visited some of the villages affected by the dams constructed by Tata Power Company. We had discussion with Niketan Dinkar Palkar, Sanjay Manu Nalve, Sanjay Bhiku Tikovane, Chimanlal Sitaram Punjabi, Shivram Bhavar and many other Tata dams affected villagers.
The Extent of Acquisition: Misleading Data:
As per the information furnished to the project affected persons under the RTI, the following is the date of the land acqisitioned.
Name of the Teshil
Land Acquired for the company
Govt. Land Allotted to company
Land purchased by the company
Land returned by the company
Land in possession of the company
However, the details of 5 dams; Siravta, Somvadi, Valvan, Bhushi and Thokalwadi – lands submerged and families affected also are supplied, which are as follows.
Sl. No. Name of the dam Total villages affected Land affected No. of Affected land holder families
1. Siravta 7 11100.00 657
2. Somwadi 6 2120.00 302
3. Valvan 5 4700.00 320
4. Bhushi 5 3550.00 320
5. Thokalwadi 18 villages 15 vadis (hamlets) 24200.00 1652
Total 5 dams 41 villages and 15 hamlets 45680.00 3251
It's clear from the above that the information is confusing: Tata Power Company has been allotted a total of 45,680 acres i.e 18272 ha through acquisition, affecting 3251 families of landholders. One can presume that since land division and distribution to all family members had not taken place then, the actual total number of families would be much larger and the exact numbers are not even known to us. There is a need to bring out the final and fairinformation and data on the impact not only of submergence, but the overall Project, through a detailed survey, immediately.
The extra land acquired is a major issue for investigation. We could find out that out of the above five, only 2 dams, Sirvata and Valvan, retain waters till May and the rest three hold very little water after winter and leave much land unsubmerged. These lands, available after receding of waters or those which never get submerged were given to the affected families on lease by the company and a lease rent of Rs. 60 per year was collected for the last more than 40 years, as realized from the receipts shown to us by the land lessee. However, this is done, claimed to be an obligation on the part of the company till date, while in reality the company has avoided application of Tenancy Act to these lands which could have been granted to them as their right. These leased landholders have already applied to the government to grant them lands with permanent rights. However the company has been slowly and steadily withdrawing the lease land, as in the case of Mr. Nandavate, who was leased 4.01 ha (cultivable) + 2.03 ha (waste) = 6.04 ha land, for which rent receipts from 03-07-1921 to 13-12-1978 are available. This land was taken back and used for a Mahaser Fisheries Centre by Tatas! Mr. Nhalve, another PAF was given about 17 acres on lease from 1921 to 2004. However, the Tatas stopped giving receipts after 2004.
To conclude, it is obvious that the grand-fathers of the persons cultivating the land today were holding that land since time immemorial and might be treated as tennats of the land in those old days. We were informed that British government had paid the compensation received from the Tata Power Company for the acquisition of land, to the absentee landlords and not to the tenants who were in fact cultivating the land since time immemorial.
It is shocking and not understandable as to why the state government did not give the benefit of the provisions of Tenancy Act and put into the action the provisions of it and made statutory purchase of land under the act in favour of the tenants of the company who are cultivating the land on rent since prior to the Independence . It certainly reflects on the conduct of the Government.
It was also noticed by us that during the year 2004-2005 the farmers realized that they can purchase the land under the provisions of Tenancy Act , and went for collecting the land records for proceeding against the company , the company refused to accept the rent.
The company also started fencing of the lands or area which were under cultivation by the farmers. The company has also installed gates on public ways and took the control of the public communication. For example, public ways of Sirvata dam, affected villages like Khandshi Umbarwadi were closed. Tata is also not permitting downstream waters for meagre cultivation. Tata is also closing the road to the Bhushi dam affected.
This attempt of the company was strongly resisted by the farmers. “Now it was complained to us that in view of the rising terrorism , the company is again attempting to seal the public ways and to put it under its control in the name of security”, the villagers informed us, expressing opposition to such acts of the company. The Government however appears to be sleeping over the valuable rights of the villagers or is more concerned of the big corporate, rather than the small and marginal farmer. A number of meetings with the Tehsildar and one with the Collector, in the presence of Tatas, have not brought in results.
We have gone through the agreements between the British government and Tata Power Company which were executed in the year 1925 and we could see that there is a condition incorporated in the agreement concerning return of extra land acquired by it to the owner on payment of price paid by the company to the government or owners. There is another condition in the agreement that right of public in respect of customary ways or easements was reserved and kept in tact so far as acquired land was concerned. Therefore, the company has no right to obstruct the farmers to use those customary ways or easements passing through or against the lands held by the company.
The Tehsidar should be directed to use his powers and authority vested in him under the provisions of Mamlatdar Courts Act and protect those easemetary rights in respect of public ways.
The villagers are now demanding the extra lands acquired by the company from their ancestors and are ready to pay the amount of compensation, which could be proved as paid to the affected, back to the company . They are also complaining to revenue authorities regarding the obstruction of the public ways by the company . However, the authorities are not paying any attention to their grievances and complaints , making the life of these poor people more miserable .
There is another serious lapse on the part of the Government. All those villages which were displaced due to projects undertaken by Tata, during the British period have not been yet rehabilitated. No Gavthan land, grazing land , cremation ground , place for social forestry etc. have been created for these families of displaced villages. Rehabilitation is their right, no doubt, whether or not there was any Rehabilitation Act existing at the time of displacement, the affected families assert their right to life, which can be ensured by providing them with one source of livelihood per family and all basic civic amenities.
No Resettlement:
After the displacement, these villages have settled themselves any how on private lands or any place found by them..But their locality was never endowed with the status of village or no Gavthan land was allocated to any of the villages, even where they have Gram Panchayat. These localities are , therefore, deprived of basic civic amenities such as provision of drinkingwater, public toilets, power supply, approach roads and many a development scheme such as EGS.
1.The villagers of submerged villages are living in some other villages or had been scattered to different places or either migrated for their sustenance. Out of 12 villages only 8 villages have been provided Gavthan land while villagers from 4 villages are waiting for allotment of Gavthan land.
2. The Tata power company failed to provide basic amenities such as a supply of drinking water to all these villages. Most of the villages have been provided unhygienic raw water from tube wells directly provided by village Panchayat. Only 2 villages have been supplied drinking water by municipal council.
3.As no Primary Health Center or dispensary provided in these villages the patients have to travel a distance of 15 to 17 kms. for getting a medical treatment. Out of 12 villages only 1 village “ Tambdechi wadi” is having a dispensary.
4.These villages are also lacking the educational facilities. Primary schools having a provision for learning upto 4 standard are functioning only in 5 villages. 2 villages are having schools were students can be educated up to 7 standard. There is only 1 school were education is provided upto 10 standard. In village Valvade there is school building but the school never functioned.
On the other hand in those last 100 years Tata went on to earn billions of rupees by selling electric energy to the city of Mumbai , which is generated through waters filled on the lands of these poor people, who are not even compensated nor made beneficiaries in the 'development' attained.
Contempt of not just people, but Court!
The extent to which the Government is scared of acting against the Tatas is obvious from the case of Chimanlal itaram Punjabi, of village Bhajgaon. His land Survey No. 25, admeasuring 2 ha. 50 acres was shown as purchased by Tatas, but it was only through oral transaction, as admitted by the Vadgaon-Maval Civil Court through interim order dated 17-06-2005. Similarly, other lands in the same Bhajgaon village were also purchased orally i.e. illegally and hence should be returned back to them, on paper. Out of tis, 5 acres is fenced by the Tatas which should be removed and the 4-5 bungalows built on Survey No. 22 by the Tatas should be demolished.
The Mulshi dam itself has not less than 14,000 acres of land, but is not distributed / allotted back to the people. Although, much of it is in the possession of people themselves, they are deprived of the legal rights, for no reason. The Sub-divisional officer, Maval, had directed inquiry to be made into these, in February 2009 but the same is not completed. The process of inquiry, as well as follow up action being unjustifiably slow, injustice continues.
It is only after agitation that the authorities have accepted, there re certain fraudulent aspects of the deals, such as:
non-acquired lands are submerged joint – holders of a land are not on the record and hence not compensated. Tribal lands were taken over without prior permission.
Access to Information:
These poor people have also been denied the access to information in respect of public record concerning their land and land rights. A number of RTI Applications ave been filed, but the details of compensation paid to the land holders are not yet obtained. Originals of compensation awards are not said to be available. When they go for information or document regarding 7/12 extracts, mutation registers, land accounts, maps etc. they receive only oneanswer that records is not with the office as whatever happened it happened during the rule of British government and they don’t posses much of the record and hence they should not make any demand from this government. That the affected people were compensated under the Land Acquisition Act is not proved.
A.All the records related to the land acquisition and compensation should be found out and made available.
B.Compensation should be paid for the land which are submerged, but not acquired, following the legal process.
C.The State Government should appoint a special rehabilitation officer for the R&R of the displaced persons and frame a time bound programme for it.
D.The condition in the agreement between Tata Power Company and then BritishGovernment,concerning return of the extra land to the farmer’s legal representatives be enforced against the company in its letters and spirit, immediately.
E.Gavthan Land, Grazing Land, cremation ground etc be provided to the displaced villages and they should be rehabilited on the Gavthan.
F.The rehabiliteted villages be provided with basic amenities at the cost Tata.
G.The land records be corrected forthwith and the names of the farmers/villagers cultivating the extra or unutilized land acquired by the company, on rent be directed to be entered in 7/12 extracts as tenants on the land.
H.Provisions of Bombay Tenancy Act should be enforced against Tata Company in respect of lands of it cultivated by the farmers on rent and they should be made owners of it forthwith.
I.The Tata company should be permanently restrained from obstructing the farmers and villagers enjoying their easement and customary rights in respect of public ways, roads and grazing lands and taking of waters from rivers, nalas and dams.
The tehsildar/Mamlatdar should be directed to exercise his powers authority and jurisdiction, vested in him under the provisions of Mamlatdars Act.
J.The Tata company be directed to provide enough land for compensatory forest or
for social forestry, to compensate environmental loss or ecological loss.
K.The provisions of the Maharashtra Project Affected Persons Rehabilitation Act,1999 be made applicable immediately to the displaced person driven out from their villages and land due to Tata Dams during British period to fulfill the constitutional obligation of giving social economical and political justice to this
unfortunate villagers as mentioned in Preamble of the Constitution.
L.All directives of the Courts and orders must be strictly followed. It is the duty of present government to correct the injustice and wrongs done by the foreign British Government to our people under pre independence days:otherwise Independence is nothing for them.
Our question is whether The government would rise to its constitutional duties and obligations or succumb to the mandates of ‘Godfather’?
Pawana Dam: Rehabilitation still not in sight
The Government of Maharashtra altogether constructed 6 medium dams between 1963 and 1995 in the Maval Tehsil of Pune district. All these dams are part of the Krishna Valley Development Project of the Government of Maharashtra.
Sl. No. Name of the dam Year of Commencement Year of Completion
1. Pavana 1963 1972
2. Andhre 1997 2001
3. Jadhavwadi 1985 2000
4. Vadivale 1978 1989
5. Malvandi - Jhule 1996 2000
6. Kasarsai 1980 1995
Pusane Minor Irrigation Project1
These medium projects displaced thousands of families who lost their houses andcommunities as well as agricultural land with the natural environs providing livelihood. The generations-old ecosystem and human population thus got destroyed and could not be rehabilitated. The Project affected people were to be rehabilitated as per the Maharashtra Rehabilitation of Project Affected Persons Act, 1976, amended in 1986 and 1999.
Pavana is the only Project which was completed before 1976 i.e. the year the Act came into force and hence the Government of Maharashtra's Circular on 'Resettlement of Project Affected Persons in the beneficiary zone of major and medium irrigation projects' dated 07-06-1973 is the basis for the Pavana affected families. In the 1973 Circular as well as the 1976 Act, the main characteristic was the legal provision to identify and acquire lands from the command area for the resettlement of oustees with alternative agricultural land and resettlement sites (gaothans) within a short distance of 5-6 kms. If only adequate land was not available from the command area, then the Govt. waste, Govt. forest and ceiling land could be made available.
However, the oustees deposed before the People's Commission that the above mentioned Act / Circular were not at all followed and hence they were far from rehabilitated. The plight of the project affected, even in the state of Maharashtra, one with the first enactment on rehabilitation of Project affected persons (PAPs) and in the case of some of its oldest irrigation projects and dams is indeed very shocking and brings out the serious issue of legalviolation as well as infringement upon human rights.
The cases deposed before us by the individual PAPs mostly belong to the scheduled tribes, OBC farmers including Inami lands, forest cultivations as well as non-acquired lands belonging to the category of small and marginal farmers who have become landless without their land lost being replaced as per law.
The Commission also heard the overall situation with reference to the costs and benefits of the above-mentioned project where it became clear that there is hardly any irrigation benefit obtained from these projects since the accumulated waters behind the dams is mostly used for the nearby cities and township and supplied to the industrial areas. This raises serious questions regarding the 'public purpose' and change in the same, justifying forcible landacquisition and ensuing displacement and deprivation.
The Commission heard passionate appeal by the affected women and men for urgent and fair rehabilitation in more than 35 cases wherein betrayal and illegality was put forth with many documents and previous correspondence between the affected people and the authorities. Some important case samples from amongst these are as follows.
Case of land grab: Agents and artists loot the displaced
Shri Dnyaeshwar Ghule and brothers of village Pale, Shri Ashok Tonde and others, Shri Bandu Akhade and others, Shri Laxman Savale, Dagader Karke, Chhababai Damodar Ghule, Raghunath Ghule, Pandurang Ghule etc.
They complained that their lands were acquired for Pavana dam in 1964, 1965 and 1966 and cash compensation under the Land Acquisition Act was paid to them which was very meagre i.e. ranging from Rs. 200 to Rs. 500 to a maximum of Rs.1200/ per acre.
Out of these, house plots were allotted to Dnyaeshwar Ghule's brothers and father Chhabubai Ghule, Pandurang Ghule and Bababai Ghule but not others like Bandu Akhade, Ashok Tonde etc. Some of these; Dnyaeshwar Ghule's father, Bandu Akhade, Damodar Ghule, Raghunath, Chhababai Ghule were allotted 4 acres of agricultural land at Shinde - Vasuli, Khed Tehsil and Indavi, Maval Tehsil which are about 40 kms and 25 kms respectively from the affected original villages. House plots and land were close by at a distance of 2-3 kms.
However, Ashok Tonde, Dagdu Karke and Laxman Salave didn't receive any agricultural or house plot. Out of those with agricultural land allotted, Bandu Akhade got bad, slopy land and hence couldn't even shift to the new site but continued to live on his unacquired, balance land which is about 3 ares with a house on the same land. Out of his total 8.20 acres acquired land, 6.20 acres, was returned to him as per the Order of the District Collector dated 1995.
Similarly the land belonging to Dnyaeshwar Ghule's family was acquired but about 4 acres of his land remained to be acquired and didn’t get submerged. His family had a temple goddess Taljai in the same land and some cultivation in a part of land which is cultivable.
In around 1996-97, as per the deponents, some of the land holders were taken to Pune in a lodge and signatures / thumb impressions of Karke and Shankar Tonde were taken, saying that part of their acquired land was returned and that one/three acres of the returned land would be purchased by some purchasers like Lakshmi Narayan Singhania and Harish Waghadia who were apparently present there. The old persons are still alive and are witnesses to the deals settled. They categorically state that Bandu Akhade or his relatives, Ashok Tonde were not at all present nor were all the successors and joint land holders were present, some of who gave their consent.
However, these families came to know that when they had not accepted sale of all of their lands which were not submerged, acquired and returned (as per the list annexed: Letter by the SDM, Lift Irrigation Sub Division, Pawananagar, Pt. No. 5 - 'Details of lands acquired but released back since 1972 till date'), those were grabbed by agents.
The above letter indicates that a total of 1426 acres area out of 5920 acres acquired for Pavana dam was extra (i.e. other than affected) while 4494 acres got submerged. Among this, 111.43 acres of land in Pale was returned while it was 104.95 acres in Apti, 70 acres in Gevande Apti, 19 acres in Kole-chapeshwar 5.63 acres in Khadak Gevande, 4.35 acres in Thakursai - i.e. total of 315.26 acres was returned to the original land owners.
It may be noted that another official document shown to us as obtained under the right to information Act indicated that 327.26; rounded up to 328 acres (not 315.26 acres) of land was returned to the land owners.
Taking the case of deponents from village Pale in 1995-96, Singhania sold the lands to various purchasers, including eminent artists and prepared and registered the sale deeds in Mumbai. One of the documents of sale through Singhania and others as Power of attorney (PoA) to purchasers is available and produced by Dnyaeshwar Ghule
Some of the holders of the PoA first transferred the land to other agent builders / their own relatives etc. before it was sold out to someone from Mumbai. Out of these deponents, Dnyaeshwar Ghule's returned land; Sy No. 138.(2 acres) and Sy No. 148 (2.24 acres) is in the name of Amitabh Bachchan and returned land of Bandu Akhade; Sy No. 135 (6. 20) acres in the name of Abhishek Bachchan.
Laxman Savale's returned land; Sy No. 137 (2:24 acres) and Sy No. 138: 1.27 acres, Govind Dhondiba Ghule's retuned land; Sy. No. 148 (3.10 acres, Dagdu Barku Karke's land; Sy. No. 148 (1.32 acres) and some more land is also with the members of the Bachchan family. We are told that the Bachchans' have altogether 20-22 acres of land. The original owners i.e. the project affected however are ignorant about the process throughout.
Thereafter, father of Dnyaeshwar Ghule disappeared since 1997 the year when the deals were carried out, no one knowing the whereabouts till date. However, it was in 2003, a death certificate is fraudulently obtained, as we were told and shown the same by Dnyaeshwar Ghule who also claimed that his father was never seen for the last more than 10 years and hence
Similarly, Bandu Akhade narrated the story of his house being demolished around 2004. One night, a few drunk persons came with weapons and threw Rs. 5000/- on his body and he was compelled to sign some papers and dismantled the house the next day or so. Akhade's family thus was compelled to shift to a wadi, a forest land near Dapturi, near Khandala above Khopoli where their relatives reside.
He again came back and built a house in village Dudhirane (Dhangar-tribals) near his balance land where he faced further shocking atrocities. Bandu Akahde's 9 years old son too is missing since 2006. Bandubhai was attacked and was thrown on the road side in a wounded condition, while his son's belongings, school bag, clothes etc. were found around the Pavana lake, near Satarkar Maharaja's Math, but not his body while he was returning from his school! He claims of a fraud played on him with him by those who have betrayed the family
At present, when the non-submerged lands of these PAFs are in the possession of various rich and elite families while the original owners are almost destitutes and some like Dnyaeshwar Ghule are working as manual labourers while Bandu Akhade is a petty hawker in the trains.
In spite of repeated demands for documents and also 'Satyagraha' on Amitabh Bachchan's land with Baba Adhav and others, no investigation has ever been carried out by any official, nor was any action taken to protect the rights of the affected. Moreover, the affected persons and their senior activist leaders informed the Commission that 1011 acres more land is released by the Krishna Valley Development Corporation (KVDC). A letter to this effect; No. 179/08 dated 08-09-2008 was produced before us. (Annexed) by the deponents as onehanded over to them by an official of the Krishna Valley Development Corporation during a meeting in the chamber of Shri Patang Rao Kadam, the State Minister for Rehabilitation. The letter mentions that the KVDC decided to return this land to the District Collector, Pune for resettlement of KVDC projects (dams) affected as well as roads and infrastructure. Another letter by Chief Engineer, Water Resources, dated 04-08-2008 enquired about the progress on utilization of this land and the reply letter dated 10-10-2008 from Executive Engineer, Irrigation informs us that the land was not used but the process is on!
Another document, minutes dated 08-09-2008 of a Meeting held by Shri Ajit
Pawar, with officials and a few activists including Baba Adhav on 19-06-2008 indicates that a decision was taken to distribute the land as follows:
One acre to every affected farmer from whom less than 5 acres of land was acquired
Two acres to every affected farmer from whom more than 5 acres of land was acquired
The Minutes accept that 863 Pavana-project affected families are yet to be allotted land for rehabilitation and presuming that adequate land will not be available from the non-submerged acquired lands to be returned back, the families can also be resettled in Sholapur with their consent. People told us that land in Sholapur was already shown to the PAFs and almost 80% of the PAFs have already rejected the land on the ground of they being cheated and not given their due amount of land.
Displacement without Rehabilitation:
Where and how much land is then available for rehabilitation of the balance eligible PAFs is a question? Another question is, Mr. Banda Thakar, one of the affected but senior leading activist informed us that out of 1238 affected landholders and 205 landless i.e. 1443 PAFs in all; eligible for 1-6 acres of cultivable land, only 340 acres of land had been allotted in 1968 at13 R&R sites in Maval Tehsil and some in the original village itself.
Similarly, out of 1238 landholders, as per an old note on Pavana Irrigation Project (Annexed), 1027 house plots are allotted. According to Mr. Thakar house plots to be allotted were 1403 (1238 + 205 landless). In reality, 1027 total plots allotted include those given to some landless, which is not reflected in the official note. All this clearly brings out that hundreds of Pavana dam affected remain to be rehabilitated with land, house plots and amenities that they are eligible for.
On what basis could the Irrigation Minister offer or allot 1 acre land per family to those who lose upto 5 acres, when as per the policy (Government Resolution 25-03-1973 referred to in the Government resolution dated 07-06-1973) followed in the case of 340 Pavana dam affected, anyone losing upto 5 acres can get upto 4 acres and those losing more than 5 acres can get upto 6 acres of land. The state government and the Irrigation Minister owe a response.
Another issue brought before us was of lands in village Thakursai, which were never acquired for the Pavana dam as is proved from the compensation award of 1964 (received as total award for the village) as well as the Gazette of the Government of Maharashtra of August 27th, 1964 which show no mention of the Survey Nos. 7, 8, 9, 10, 17, 18, 16, 20, 26 of the same village. Mr. Mahadur Bhiva Thakar owned a part of Sy. No. 18 and 16 and his land title has a stamp of 'Government ownership'. One Mr. Baben Chavan owning Survey No. 7 hasreceived a response in the form of the Order by Tehsildar, Maval dated 15-03-1991 on investigation which clearly shows that the Sy. No. 7 (with all the Sub Nos.) should be returned back to the owner and name of the Pavana dam authority (Sub Divisional Engineer) as well as 'Government' should be removed from the record. This was accordingly done. But in spite of repeated appeal and application in relation to lands with similar problems there has been no response. These lands are still shown as 'owned' by the Govt. although are inpossession of the owners! What an injustice to the martyr for development!
This case concerns not less than 50 landholders and including joint landholders not less than 100 families who have rights and interest in these lands. They are, however, not getting the stamp of the 'Government' since there is no judgement given by the revenue officials or Minister regarding this, except for one Survey No. 27. The said Survey No. however was already taken as power of attorney by Mr. Nitin Agarwal who has thereafter sold the same to Parsi families; Jenai Birjor Banaji, Birjor Phiroz Banaji and Rustam Phiroz! Mr. Narayan Rane's orders as Revenue Minister approved the right of the original farmer, Smt. Chandrabai Baguji Chavan (and others) as encroachers - cultivators on the 'government forest land'. Smt. Rangubai, we are told, was unjustly excluded from this approved record of rights. Rangubai, about 70 years old appeared and other villagers were present at the hearing. Rangubai was only given a paltry sum of Rs. 5000/- and others like Late Abu Babu Chavan and hissuccessors were also treated similarly. We couldn't hear them in person.
This complex case concerning a large number of families and 84 acres of land is highly politicised, since the land is eyed by giant investors including Ambanis' for a Special Economic Zone coming up nearby. The struggling person like Shri Banda Thakar has not just been threatened but also attacked, when the community protected successfully.
This case brings out the grave situation in Maval Tehsil where land is being grabbed in many ways even where the farmers are in possession over decades and are not for doing away or selling out of their lands. The state not coming forward to protect the true owners and law is losing faith of the people as also its credibility. The urgency is such that every inch of land in this region needs to be saved if people's livelihood needs to be protected.
Water grab too........?? One more serious case is of village Brahmnoli and Kale where land was acquired for the Pavana Project, with the Executive engineer as the Project and Acquiring Authority. Mr. Raghunath Kale made a presentation on the same. However at least 40-45 acres land in Brahmnoli and about 100-125 acres of village Kale was not used for the purpose. Many land owners in Kale have also not accepted cash compensation (3 crores 33 lakhs) from the Government since they always complained of extra land acquired suddenly. However, the submerged land started being brought under another use, placing pipeline for carrying reservoir waters to the Pimpri Chinchwad city through the Municipal Corporation and probably to the MIDC nearby.
When the people from Brahmnoli and Kale opposed with Kadade, Bour, Karunj Somatane and other villages to be affected by deprivation of water and/or land, it became a serious issue related to the affected people's right not just to land but water as well. "When water is used today for not only for irrigation but also for drinking purpose, the Government planning to provide water to Pimpri Chinchwad upto the estimated requirement in 2025 and beyond, isinjustice", people assert.
The Commission views this as a classical example of how the agriculture and agriculturalists, their resources and rights are compromised in favour of the urban - industrial populace and vocations. It's also reported to us that the Pimpri Chinchwad Corporation has not made it a policy to absorb the project affected youth, by providing adequate jobs. Whatever number of kiosks and jobs the Corporation approved (not more than 10) was a result of indefinite hungerstrike when Shri Dilip Band, the then Municipal Commisisoner, Pimpri Chinchwad and presently Divisional Commissioner, Pune agreed to do a favour. No clear policy decision on the issue of preference of the previous Pavana affected in the reciprocal jobs in the Pimpri Chinchwad as the beneficiary, as an analogy to the land allotment in the command area is taken as yet. The Commission views this as the most rational solution to the livelihood problem for the educated youth in the affected families who have lost agriculture.
The most interesting is what happened to the extra acquisitioned land. It is now seen from documents obtained under the RTI that it was as early as in 1946 that the Executive Engineer, Khadakvasla Canal Division No.1 had to the Collector of Pune that the land acquired for murum quarry and approached roads was no more required for the same and hence is returned for relinquishment to the original landholder from whom the amount of cash compensation already paid (Rs. 11,380/-) was to be recovered (Annexed). This decision was never conveyed to the people of Brahmnoli or Kale and the same was being used for waterpipeline to the Pimpri Chinchwad Corporation. Such a transfer of land without any information to and consent of the land owner is both illegal and unjust. Even if one considers the pipeline project as a 'public purpose' project and hence the transfer, rehabilitation of the PAFs in these villages who have become landless and they are denied the right to life, could also be taken as public purpose. Why not?
The Rehabilitation Policy clearly provides for house plots and amenities to be granted to each family in the form of rehabilitation sites. For the Pavana affected, 26 sites were established, out of which 21 are near the reservoir and the other 5 are adjacent to the agricultural land allotted to the families. The plots were allotted in 1968-72 while marking of and issuing titles for the plots were done in 2000 where in there is a lot of bungling in the numbering and recording of plots.
In two of the sites, Gevande Apte and Kole-chapeshwar which are comparatively newly created for the Koli Vasahat, but Mr. Vinayak Jabhulkar, one of the affected complained to us that the same site is, as late as in the year 200, allocated to the Forest Dept. for compensatory afforestation as an environmental compensatory measure for the Andhre dam Project where 332 acres of forest land was lost. The Government decision and Order for the same dated03-07-1996 as indicated by tabulated information provided to the affected people's organization under RTI is annexed (Annexed)
The Government dared record right to the land in the name of the Forest Department and not the resettled families. Similarly additional land acquired from the same village, Kole-chapeshwar also is clarified 'For Resettlement of the PAFs', while in reality, it is recorded in the name of Pimpatgaon Joga dam affected. In fact no PAFs are allotted this land Mr. Rambhan Savale and Kedave expressed anguish against such deception
In Kole-chapeshwar village itself there are adivasi families but although they are affected since they had lost their houses which were not in their names, but were old enough to be recognized they were not and are not yet allotted any house plot. Although Gharkul's under the Indira Awaas Yojana are sanctioned, yet could not be constructed without the land being allotted for the same. There are around 12 adivasi families lying in a hamlet which is cut-off from the rest of the land and one has to travel in a vehicle with great difficulty since the road is not even jeepable. Almost all vasahats have problems of approach road, lack of toilet blocks of cemetery. Two vasahats have serious problems of drinking water. Even in a Vasahat with no one residing, estimates for amenities are submitted. For ex. Vageshwar is uninhabited since its not even a developed vasahat.
Discussion with representatives of the PAFs has been on since the last 15 -20 years, yet even a ring road could not be completed in construction till now! At least 400 PAFs have not received house plots resulting in about 1000 PAFs being left deprived.
On the other hand, some of the officials have occupied plots in the name of the relatives, in some cases even their sons have! The overall physical degradation in the affected region is such that people in the same villages don't even have a proper access and hence they demand upgradation of the basic services and amenities, but with virtually no progress!
The pressing issue is also of lands acquired from the farmers in the name of the Pavana dam amounting to Rs. 20-25 acres at least. The list of rented out lands to the builders and investors between 1996 and 2005 is enclosed. The information on new allotments is not fully available. This land transfer against the interest of the PAFs is thus without any legal basis and isobviously questioned by the PAFs who feel cheated and looted.
The land market by the rich and profiteering 'developers' is flourishing at the cost of the 'real investors' in development whose life and vocations are snatched away from them, the State proving to be not just incompetent, but also callous. The ensuing repercussion of all of this - no rehabilitation but only displacement and destruction is nothing less than criminal.
OTHER DAMS Kasarsai Project: Erection of this medium dam commenced in 1980 and was completed in the year 1995. It affected 2 villages and 115 land holders and even the landless, but the latter were never consulted, nor listed. Even when the MaharashtraRehabilitation of PAPs Act, 1976 is applicable in this Project, not more than 50% of the PAPs were given land as per law. The host communities, however created problems by taking away the top soil, as is told to us by the affected people, represented by Ravindra Kedari and hence almost 30% of farmers have had to sell away the allotted lands. Ravindra also narrated his own story. His father, whose family dispute is not resolved by the State is without anycompensation. Once an owner of 15 acres of land, he has become a landless labourer today.
There are 5 families who paid 65% of their compensation as per the law for alternative land, but they couldn’t get land allotted on paper due to the host community obstructing. The story of Mohan Jadhav, formers Superintending Engineer of KVDC is a peculiar one, exposing corruption. He purchased at least 30 acres of land out of the command area land even when the sale purchase was stayed as a legal requirement towards rehabilitation. An inquiry under RTI by Prakash Kedari has brought a reply that no permission for purchase of land in village Kusgaon was granted to Mohan Jadhav. A complaint is lodged, but with no response.
Mohan Jadhav has also encroachment on forest land and people complained of the same. He is an extractor of ground water for his bottled water factory in the name of his relative. He has used the rocks and soil of the acquired land for mud works at his factory, while even electricity was stolen by Jadhav. He cheated the farmers by promising jobs to the youth. The Commission felt aghast to know of the offences of such a high level official and more so, to know of no action by any Government authority. Not a single R&R site was established for Kasarsai affected. These PAFs who got agricultural land in Mulshi Tehsil itself also didn’t receive amenities as a rehabilitation site. The villages got disintegrated and destroyed compelling many families to send their wives and children out of the village where destitution is obvious.
Andra Medium project:
Andra is a medium irrigation project completed in 2001 and built in Andra River near Mangrul, Taluka Maval, which is a tributary of Krishna. In toto, 14 villages were affected by this dam, out of which two were fully submerged. The Project comes under the State Rehabilitation Act, 1976, However, only 3 out of the total 1300 affected families were alloted land for land. Some of them accepted resettlement with house plots, but they did not get any land nor additional compensation. No Gaothan with civic amenities, i.e. total rehabilitation is received by either fully or partially affected villages.
Thus, 1297 land holders remain to be given land. The water of Andra Project is used in MIDC – Ambi and Chakram, which was supposed to be allotted to 12 villages in Maval, 14 villages in Haveli village, in Khed for irrigation. PAPs are demanding for employment in the MIDC as they are the beneficiaries of the Project and land for employment to their major sons, compensation and rehabilitation along with civic amenities. This must be immediately granted. How could the Project be completed without rehabilitation, which is illegal, needs to be investigated and the culprit officials need to be punished.
Jadhavwadi Medium Project:
The Project , built on the river Sudha, which is a tributary of Indrayani started in 1985 and was completed in 2000. Jadhavwadi, Mendhewadi, Badalwadi, Jambhavadi and Shire are the five villages submerged / affected in this Project.
The Government of Maharashtra's Rehabilitation Act is applicable to this Project, but not implemented. Among 112 khatedars (land owners) in these 5 villages, only 1 has got land and 111 are yet to get any land. They are entitled to get lands in the command area, which is large enough but no land was even acquisitioned rrom there. Only 15 certificates of PAPs and 97 are yet to get it. One Gaothan is planned in the Yelwadi (Khed Taluka), that too on thegrazing land of 5 ha area. But no PAP has shifted there, as there is no electricity, no roads, no water or other civic amenities. PAPs are demanding house plot, and for land and alternative employment.
The violation of the right to life and livelihood of all the PAFs is obvious and is gross injustice according to us.
Vadiwale Medium Project:
This Project started in 1978 and was completed in 1989. Totally, 5 villages have been affected with a total area of 433 ha of land. There are 217 khatedars from the total 226 who are allotted land, but 9 khatedars and 20 landless have not be allotted land till date.
The height of the dam was increased in 1986. The work on the canals was started, but again stopped as the water supposed to go for irrigation was shifted to the Tata's Shinavat dam.
A total amount of Rs. 2,000,000/- is yet to be given to 22 oustees. Nobody has got house plots till date. Also, no compensation and rehabilitation is given to the newly displaced people while increasing the dam height. PAPs who have been rehabilitated so far have been resettled in 3 villages in the command area. There is land acquired in 11 villages in which these remaining PAPs can be resettled. So people demand alternative land, compensation, house plots and employment for the major children. Malvandi Thule Project:
This Project was completed in 2000 ad affected 4 villages including Malvandi Thule, Tikone, Waru and Kotharne. Total affected land holders are 129 and the amount sanctioned as compensation was Rs. 98,58,480 but only 50% of it was actual paid to the PAPs. Rest of the amount is still pending due to the unresolved land disputes, which is the responsibility of the State.
No PAP is rehabilitated with land or additional compensation PAPs demand Rs. 15 lakh per acre as additional amount for purchasing the land, However, PAPs who have already paid 65% of their compensation for alternative land should get land in he command area.
The callousness of the Govt. is obvious from the fact that even the certificates for the PAPs are not yet distributed. Pusane Project:
It is a small irrigation project, as declared, with catchment area of 73 ha and command area of 300 ha. The State Rehabilitation Act, id therefore, considered as not applicable in this case. However, as the Project went ahead, it is clear that extra land I coming under submergence, which is yet to be acquired and hence, the people demand that this will be declared as a Meduim Project ad the Rehabilitation Act should be applicable. Mr. Mohan Wase, Vithal Wase and others had this crop destroyed by bulldozers without getting any compensation. This is gross injustice. Event hose who received compensation got it at meager rate and hence demand additional mount and land based rehabilitate and / employment.
The People's Commission feels pain and anguish to report the above stated and analyzed illegalities and fraudulent acts in relation to the land acquisition, displacement and rehabilitation of the Project affected people; the transfer of land, water and forest resources from the hands of the nature supported communities including the Adivasis, Dalits and Backward classes, as also destruction of nature.
The Commission brings out this Interim Report, while it expects the Inquiry to continue, with more data and dialogue with the officials, with the sole intention of judging the illegalities, correcting those, taking legal action against the responsible officials and non-officials as also ensuring fair and just compensation and right to life and livelihood to the affected people.
It is also notable that Pune is the district with half of the large dams in India built here which has affected the PAFs on a larger scale than would be justified. While our prima facie assessment concluded that the benefits of irrigation, and drinking water supply to the needy have not come true as expected, the cost and benefits of the Project will also have to be reviewed.
Lavasa Hill station is a classic example of politicization of development and anything including elitist recreation being justified in the name of the same. Such gross illegalities, as in Lavasa needs to be taken suo moto cognizance of by all the concerned authorities, including the constitutional authorities who are mandated to protect the specially disadvantaged sections and their life supporting sources.
While the Commission would always be ready for a dialogue with whosoever desired on this Report, we also expect that the power holders at the highest level initiate an urgent inquiry and further the cause of the People's Commission. Signed by/- Members of the Commission Shri Nirmalkumar Suryavanshi Shri S. M. Mushrif Shri Arvind Kejariwal Shri Y.P. Singh