RTI activist exposes Pune Div Commissioner Prabhakar Deshmukh’s alleged land scam

RTI activist exposes Pune Div Commissioner Prabhakar Deshmukh’s alleged land scam

Activists used Section 4 of RTI Act at IG-Registration’s website to unearth a big land scam involving Pune’s divisional commissioner Prabhakar Deshmukh and top notch politician… …under this Act, the landlord can keep minimum 54 acres of land as a family holding. Excess land is taken by the state government, for distribution to the landless poor and ex-servicemen. The land in Jambhe village area, where Deshmukh bought the 300 acre land for Rs2 crore, is a deemed government land since 1977. It is a mineral-rich zone and any change in land zone is prohibited. Importantly, the land has also been ear-marked for project rehabilitation. Despite this, Deshmukh bought 300 acres of agricultural land in the name of his family members and close relatives. Incidentally, he is also the President of Satara Planning Administration… …the 300 acre land stands witness to an ambitious windmill project called ‘Siddhivinayak Eco Power Project’. Shockingly, the land has been divided into plots, without any written permission. As per the scheme, “first 100 lucky buyers” will get 21,000 sq.ft plot for Rs21 lakh.” That means, land that was purchased for just Rs1.60 paisa per sq ft is being sold for Rs100 per sq ft or more, says Kumbhar.” Whether the allegations against the commissioner Deshmukh are true or not, only time will tell. But the standard operating procedure of procuring land at a nominal price, getting the land use norm from agriculture to non-agriculture, and then selling the same land at a many times over the original purchase price, seems to have become the norm across the country. Only the power brokers have the magic...
Site for world’s tallest statue in rural Gujarat, opposed by farmers

Site for world’s tallest statue in rural Gujarat, opposed by farmers

On Oct 31, 2013, Chief minister Narendra Modi, the Prime Ministerial candidate for the BJP in the forthcoming general election in 2014, will lay the foundation stone of world’s tallest statue, that of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. The Rs 2,500 crore (US$ 500 million) project that envisages the installation of the and a tourism and recreation centre, in the Narmada district of Gujarat. Villagers of Kevadia, Kothi, Waghadia, Limbdi, Navagam and Gora had opposed the project demanding land rights for around 927 acres of land that was acquired way back in 1961-62 for the dam project. The villagers are demanding proper compensation for their land, alleging that they were compensated only for the standing crop when the government should have compensated them for the land lost under water. The state government had first notified the implementation of the project eight years ago, identifying 16 villages for land acquisition. It proposes construction of hotels, golf course, camping grounds, resort, water parks, among others, in the region, with the aim to give boost to tourism. The statue of Sardar Patel will be on an island, a few kilometers downstream of the Sardar Sarovar Dam. Incidentally, three decades after the multi-purpose project was initiated in 1979, to provide irrigation and generate electricity, the gates on the dam has not yet been installed, due to legal challenges. The villagers had also demanded scrapping of Garudeshwar weir-cum-causeway project saying many would lose their land in submergence. They had demanded scrapping of the proposed Kevadia Area Development Authority (KADA) and declare Garudeshwar as a taluka. These demands include giving water from the dam, creation of a...
Corruption Trips Up India’s Rise

Corruption Trips Up India’s Rise

The growing scandal over a newly built apartment tower in Mumbai, and the collapse of an old building in Delhi on the night of November 15, killing over 60 people reflect the peril that haunts Indians everyday – lack of secure property right, and strangulating regulation. The result is the pyramid of corruption that weighs heavily on citizens, and retards India’s progress. This kind of systemic corruption cannot be dealt with by symbolic resignation of a minister. A shorter version of this article has been published in the Wall Street Journal, on 17 November 2010. —Barun Just a week ago President Barack Obama received repeated applause from Indian Parliamentarians for saying that India has risen, not merely rising! In the week since, Indians have been witness to the scourge that has held India back, corruption, with a capital C. President Obama’s host in Mumbai, Mr Ashok Chavan, Chief Minister of Maharashtra, resigned due to serious allegations of malpractices surrounding an apartment tower in the heart of the city. That India’s rise could literally collapse, was tragically brought home when a building collapsed in Delhi on Monday night killing over 60 people. Collusion between unscrupulous builders and various officials allowed the addition of two more floors to an old three-storey building when the tragedy happened. In this past week, Mr Suresh Kalmadi, a member of parliament, and a senior office bearer of the Congress Party, resigned from his party post. Mr Kalmadi heads the much ridiculed Commonwealth Games organizing committee, for various acts of omission and commission. The allegations involve gross misappropriation of public money by a number of public and private...
Farmer fights corruption for a decade

Farmer fights corruption for a decade

Here is a typical news about a small farmer’s 10 year battle against corrupt land record officials in Medak District in Andhra Pradesh. The farmer had inherited 3 acres of agricultural land from his father. He had all the relevant papers. Yet, one day, he was told that the land did not belong to him. Visits to different government department did not help. Eventually he approached the Anti-Corruption bureau, and trapped the Revenue Inspector accepting a bribe. But this did not end his ordeal. The court case went on for years, and he had to withstand offers of inducements and threats. Ultimately the official was convicted. This story once again underscores the need for the need to regularise the land titles and the land records, and prevent this kind of fraud perpetrated on millions of people, both in rural and urban areas. —Barun His attire and physical features suggest 50-year-old R. Shankaraiah, is a typical marginal farmer. But this illiterate, poor and ordinary ryot from Chapchedu village of Medak district waged an unrelenting war for over 10 years against a corrupt government official and got him convicted. When a group of Non-Resident Indians felicitated him, along with several others for fighting corruption, on Saturday at Ravindra Bharathi, Shankaraiah wept remembering his lonely fight against the corrupt system. Relying on the three acres of land inherited from his father, Shankaraiah was pulling on life when 10 years ago suddenly the village authorities told him the land did not belong to him and was transferred in somebody’s name. Shankaraiah approached the Revenue Inspector of Record of Rights but the latter said...
Manipulating Zoning Laws

Manipulating Zoning Laws

The following news item in ToI today, illustrates the reason why supply of land is kept artificially scarce by the authorities, why developers juggle to seek control of land, and how by getting the authorities to change the land use permission, developers reap huge profit without any real value addition or additional investment. A Pune based developer bids for a 12 acre plot, for Rs 282 crore, to build a five star hotel in Navi Mumbai, in 2008. The developer apparently believed that a new airport will come up not too far. When the prospect for the new airport dimmed, the developer sought permission to change land use plan for about 6 acre, seeking residential development. And once he secured that permission, in 2010, he sold this piece to another developer, at Rs 275 crore, a price which is close to the original price, for about half the land. The question is, by removing land ceiling and zoning laws, would we create the incentive for developers to compete to acquire land, and use it they way fit appropriate? By having the freedom to change plans and layouts, would more land become available for optimum use, and the customers enjoy greater range of choices in real estate? —Barun MUMBAI: The politically well-connected Pune-based builder Avinash Bhosale made Rs 275 crore by selling off half of the 12-acre Cidco (City Industrial Development Corporation) plot on Palm Beach Road in Navi Mumbai. And what did Cidco, which owned this prime land, get in return? According to high-level sources, the government agency received a paltry Rs 1.25 crore as ‘change of user fee’...