Despite restrictions against cutting, levelling or razing of hills, a hillock at Bavdhan Budruk is being systematically subjected to such activities, allegedly at the behest of local ‘guntha mantri’, land dealers and goons.
The plots in the area are yet to be declared as NA plots and any such activities is illegal. The police however, have not taken action as no formal FIR has been filed in this regard.
Puneites, who had bought land on the hillock near the Pune-Bangalore bypass that is around four kilometres away from the city in 1992, claim that they are under constant pressure from local goons to sell their properties at low rates and move out.
These activities are believed to be going on as there is a likelihood that Bavdhan will merge with Pune, thereby causing a drastic increase in land rates here.
A group of eight Puneites had purchased a total 40 guntas of land in 1992 and alleged that illegal hill cutting activities are being carried out in the area and even their properties are being tampered with.
A 60-year-old woman, who co-owns a plot, said, “Our land is on a rocky tabletop and I had dreams of building a small house here, as it is very close to the city. There are already some bungalows built up on the road leading to Flame Institute. There is also talk of big residential and commercial complexes being constructed here by some reputed builders who had bought land in this area.”
She added that some other co-owners have sold their plots to a local land dealer sarcastically known as ‘guntha mantri’, at throwaway prices.
“These land dealers have now started harassing me and my new neighbour. Whenever we visit our land, they are rude and have also removed the original fences from around the plot at several locations.
They have also been making false and baseless claims that some of the original owners are not part of the group. We have our sale deed and other relevant documents, which have been checked by our lawyers and there is no truth in their claims. They even advised me to sell off my property at a price they offer,” she said.
Dattatraya Shinde, a businessman who owns a plot on the hillock, said, “My original fence was destroyed by these people. When I attempted to re-fence my land a few months ago, I was warned not to indulge in any such activity.”
Will go to court
Shinde added that he is prepared to take the legal route as the pressure tactics have been intimidating. “I will fight till the end, as this is my land. I sold my family ornaments to raise money to purchase the land. I will go to police or knock the doors of court for justice,” he said.
Neelesha Dudhale, woman Sarpanch, Bavdhan Budruk, said, “We are aware of this development and promise not to allow such activities on the hillock in future. Unfortunately, I was sworn in as sarpanch just a month ago and these activities were rampant before that. The land owners can approach the police or court and also inform to the District Collector about the matter.”
Vaishali Kamble, former sarpanch of Bavdhan Budruk, said, “It is illegal to cut into a hill when the land is yet to be declared as NA land. Encroachment is a major problem in all the villages and I had conveyed this issue to the District Collector during my tenure as the Sarpanch of Bavdhan.”
No formal complaint
Satish Devre, senior police inspector of the Hinjewadi police station under which Bavdhan falls, said, “We shall certainly take action if the complainants furnish necessary documents of land purchase to us. If the case is genuine, there is nothing to fear and we can book the accused under Section
447 (Encroachment of property) of the Indian Penal Code.”