Narayan Rane's bungalow spared during NH-17 widening?
Villager's RTI query reveals the Ranes were paid over Rs 80 lakh as part of a land-acquisition drive, but the bungalow still stands, even as the road goes around it
The four-laning of National Highway (NH)-17 seems to have taken a controversial turn around ex-chief minister Narayan Rane's bungalow. A reply to an RTI query filed by a villager shows that while authorities have compensated Rane handsomely for the land, they haven't yet demolished the part of his bungalow that stands in the way.
In addition to Rane's plots, the project has also taken lands from villages and Adivasi padas. His bungalow in Tara village near Karnala continues to remain untouched, even though it is in the way of the proposed widening. Only a part of it has to be demolished for the project.
NHAI says it will demolish the part of Rane's bungalow in Tara village after monsoon
The widening of the 84-km section of NH-17 from Panvel to Indapur started in 2015 and was supposed to be completed by 2016, as declared by PWD minister Chandrakant Patil. The process to inform villagers had begun in 2009.
One of the villagers, Ajay Patil, filed an RTI to get information about how many people have received compensation for their land that would come under the project. According to the RTI reply, the Tara villagers have so far been paid Rs 28,18,69,653 as compensation.
As for Rane, the RTI reply (mid-day has a copy) states that he has received a compensation of around Rs 83 lakh in total. For plot 167/1, which is 1,320 sqm, he has been paid `43,37,556, and for plot 167/2, which is 890 sqm, he has received `36,78,015. The government has given him an additional `3,60,927 for the 85 trees on his land that have to be cut for the project.
In addition to the heavy compensation, the part of the bungalow that stands in the way has also been taken care of — by allegedly diverting the route so that it remains untouched.
Sudden change for Rane?
Social activist Santosh Thakur, who has been constantly fighting against the deteriorating condition of NH-17 said, "If the government can take the lands of villagers to built a road, why can't they take Rane's land? The road goes straight till Rane's house, but suddenly, its alignment has changed to take a turn from there, only to go straight again right after. The road widening has already been done in Tara village."
When mid-day reached out to Pratima Pudalwad, deputy collector of Raigad and sub-divisional officer (land acquisition) of Pen, she said, "We have given him compensation for his two lands. We will soon take over a part of his house." Upon being asked why would they take over the house now that the widening has already been done, she said, "We're still doing our work. I don't know about the diversion you're talking about."
Meanwhile, responding to the allegations, Prashant J Fegade, GM (tech) and project director, NHAI said, "The diversion and the turn we have done is as per our original plan and has not been done to save anyone's house. We will be demolishing the bungalow in question too, but after the monsoon. We need an area of his house as we are planning to make an underpass there."
'We've never opposed it'
While Narayan Rane was unavailable for comment, his son Nitesh said, "We don't know why they didn't take our land. It's the highway authorities' responsibility, not ours. We have always been positive about the project and have never been against the taking of a part of our land for it."
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