An ancient 73.11-acre piece of land belonging to the famous Chitleshwar Devasthan Trust in Sinnar district, Nasik, is symbolic of how land deals are steeped in corruption. The political establishment and landowners* nexus stands exposed once again in this case where former Revenue Minister Narayan Rane is allegedly involved.
On Saturday, MiD DAY broke the story of how Rane has been accused of playing a pivotal role in the deal where around 39.11 acres of land was sold at Rs 2.50 crores (*Rs 100 cr land sold for just Rs 2.5 cr*). A public interest litigation has been filed in the Bombay High Court and the matter will come up for hearing once the court reopens in the first week of January 2011.
Post the MiD DAY expose, Sinnar*s locals are anguished. Mandar Dhamne, who lives close to the Chitleshwar temple, said, "Sinnar is known for 12 ancient Shiv temples which resemble the 12 jyotirlingas."
Villager Prakash Waje, who is also a social worker, feels, "Rane and his cronies have sold the property to a builder-cum-developer in Nasik, without even the consent of Joint Charity Commissioner. We demand that the villagers get back the land that belongs to the temple trust.
We are collecting evidence to file another PIL in the Bombay High Court." He added, "Arvind Vaidya, who has masterminded the land deal, was never seen in Sinnar before. The temple trust was run by four different Vaidyas."
According to the petitioner Sanjay Deshpande (42), he received a phone call from the deputy collector*s office on Saturday afternoon, as he was keen to know why he (Deshpande) did not discuss the issue with them before filing a PIL in the court. Deshpande clarified that his only interest in the matter was that he wanted to protect the land belonging to the Chitleshwar temple trust from being misused.
Meanwhile, former Revenue Minister Narayan Rane, who is presently the Industry Minister, has denied any role in the land deal and has agreed to follow court directions.
The story so far
Then Revenue Minister Narayan Rane has been accused of passing an order on October 7, 2010 that brought the land under the tax bracket and converted it from agricultural to non-agricultural land. On October 12, 2010 the Revenue department in Mantralaya passed an order whereby the Collector of Nasik was directed to give effect to the impugned order.u00a0
"The impact of the order was that the land was treated as personal property and not as property belonging to a trust. In less than a month 39.11 acres of land out of 73.11 acres was sold at a pea nut amount of Rs 2.50 crore," said Deshpande.