Around one lakh people and 10,000 households spread on 35 hectares in Vadgaon Budruk stand to lose all they have, including their very existence, as the entire village has been declared a Bio Diversity Park (BDP) reservation.
The declaration covers survey numbers 43, 48 and 49. Interestingly, the enforcement authority of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) will have to demolish the civic body’s tax collection building and a water supply tank in the village. The hapless villagers are blaming politicians for their plight.
Local youth Congress president Haridas Charwad, who also stands to lose his home as it comes under the BDP reservation, had recently staged a protest with around 1,500 supporters over Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan’s announcement on eight per cent Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) on BDPs.
“The village has its own history and heritage spanning the last 150 years, and a full-fledged village was set up on the official orders of the respective district collector in 1935. Before that it was a Gairan (open space). Survey numbers 43 and 49 were reserved for rehabilitation of those families displaced by the Khadakwasala Dam project. It is strange that in 2005, the village was declared a BDP reservation though Vadgaon Budruk was merged in Pune city in 1996. Now, the village schools, temples and hospitals are also under the BDP reservation,” Charwad said.
Dilip Charwad, senior Congressman and former member of Vadgaon grampanchayat said, “The local politicians are totally unaware of the situation and have not looked at what the villagers are facing. We will be meeting Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar soon to seek a solution, as our own Congress leaders had done a U-turn with regard to this issue. Earlier, we had a five-member committee to resolve the issue, but nothing has worked out till date.”
Sanjay Konkar, an industrial employee staying at Vadgaon Budruk, said, “It is absolutely strange, as we already received our own NA (Non Agriculture) certificate from the district collector in 2008. Now, our house has fallen under the BDP reservation. Before taking away our homes, the government should demolish the posh bungalows in Mumbai, where many ministers live lavishly. Even some ministers have their bungalows on hills in Pune. Why is the government after our homes that we have spent our entire life earnings and have even taken loans to build?”
Tanaji Nivangune, a retired government employees said, “My family was rehabilitated because of the Khadakwasala Dam and we were under the impression that now we are safe and secure. This was a misconception, as the government had abruptly declared our village a BDP reservation. We will be on the roads in a night, if the decision is enforced without thinking about the welfare of the people staying here.”
Raghunath Mahadik, an 83-year-old villager, said, “At this stage of my life I have to fight for the right to retain my home in the village. I am ready to sacrifice my life for my home as well as those of the other villagers. Nobody can throw us off our land by showing us some absurd laws and reservations.”
Vandana Mahajan, who works as housemaid, said, “PMC is charging us property tax and still my life is hanging in the balance, as my tiny home may go into the reservation. Why in the first place has the civic body allowed us to construct our homes here?”
The other side
Prashant Waghmare, city engineer, PMC, said, “PMC had only proposed the BDP reservation in 23 villages to the state government and we are awaiting the formal nod from the Town Planning (TP) department. I don’t know about any PMC building in Vadgaon Budruk falling in the BDP reservation. The final decision will be taken by the TP department after inviting suggestions and objections.”
>> PMC incorporated 23 villages in its boundary in 1997 and decided to make a Development Plan the same year
>> The DP was declared in 2002 and invited suggestions from villagers and Puneites
>> PMC sent the approved DP to the state government for approval
>> The BDP reservation was made by C-DAC on the total land of 978.54 acres, in which 853.09 hector was privately owned land
>> Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan declared the BDP with the provision of eight per cent TDR with 74 hectares for excluded properties on February 2, 2013