In Khursapur Village, Taluka Umred, District Nagpur in Vidarbha part of Maharashtra, the Lower Vena Vadgaon Dam was sanctioned. Work began in 1982
A villager Gajanan Rambhauji Ghadge and his family lost 89.95 acres of land to the Dam. They were compensated at a mere Rs. 5000 per acre.
1982 - 1997
Only 23.5 acres of their land was directly used in the Dam project. During this period Ghadge and his family were tilling the balance 66.45 acres that was still not used and they grew soyabean, cotton and jowar.
In 1995 Nitin Gadkari’s owned Purti Power and Sugar Limited set up a power plant, a sugar mill and a distillery in the same village near the dam.
The Dam was completed and the entire submergence area was filled with water and he lost most of his land. However, there was nearly 100 acres belonging to various villagers which was not utilized by the dam and was lying just outside the dam area. Out of this Ghadge’s portion was 12.5 acres which was still under his possession and cultivation.
1997 - 2007
Sub Divisional Engineer, Shri Parvat gave Ghadge permission to till 18.75 acres of unused land (out of which12.5 was from his original plot) and Ghadge continued tilling it for 10 years. (Exhibit 1 “paanpati slips”)
The villagers approached the government that they wanted to buy back the land that was not utilized but the government did not heed the demand. Ghadge wrote the CM Vilasrao Deshmukh, Minister Irrigation, Minister Land Revenue, Collector Nagpur and Nagpur Rehabilitation Officer, on 5 December 2000 requesting that he be returned at least the portion that was not submerged as they had no other source of income. (Exhibit 2 Ghadge’s letter to CM)
By a letter dated 28 January 2002 the irrigation department wrote to Shri Gajanan Rambhauji Ghadge that he must stop leasing and tilling the land as the balance land will be used for beautification of the dam and as a tourist destination. (Exhibit 3 Letter by Irrigation Department to Ghadge)
VIDC Resolution (Exhibit 4) – Unused land handed over to Nitin Gadkari
Nitin Gadkari, the then MLA and BJP Maharashtra President, wrote a letter to the Irrigation Minister, Ajit Pawar number 211 dated 4th June 2005. In the letter he requested that 36.51 hectares of unused, acquired land should be given to Purti Sinchan Kalyankari Sanstha, Wardha (Gadkari’s organization) on a 99 year lease and he also recommended that the proposal of Gems of India for 11.27 hectares should be granted.
Within 4 days, on 8th June 2005 the Irrigation Minister recommended that this letter be tabled in the Vidarbha irrigation development Corporation (VIDC) committee meeting scheduled for 22 June 2005.
VIDC passed resolutions numbered 23/2 and 23/3 related to the land which had been acquired from the farmers but not utilized in Khursapur Village, Taluka Umred, District Nagpur in the Vidarbha part of Maharashtra, by the Lower Vena Vadgaon Dam.
In resolution number 23/2 it was agreed 31.598 hectares of land which was acquired from villagers but not utilized in the Lower Vena Vadgaon Dam should be given on lease by a “special grant” to Purti Sinchan Kalyankari Sanstha Wardha. It was further decided that 5.36 hectares should be given to Gems of India Nagpur.
Handing over of land to Nitin Gadkari was illegal - In this committee meeting, it was clearly brought out that such handing over of land to Nitin Gadkari was in violation of a government letter No JAY1097/(309/97)/Mopra-2 dated 6 April 2005 wherein it was categorically stated that all the Irrigation Development Corporations should not lease or rent any additional land that has been with them for a prolonged period of time to private organizations. As per their rules no 19(2)(A) and no 28, made when the irrigation corporations were founded, it was stated that neither buildings nor land should not be rented, leased or sold to private organizations. The department secretary insisted that land should not be given in violation of these resolutions. However, Secretary’s objections were over ruled. Resolution 23/2 was passed unanimously. This resolution has been signed by the Irrigation Minister Shri Ajit Pawar and Irrigation Secretary Shri R M Landge
Possession of land had not been taken yet. The lower bureaucracy perhaps did not know about this transfer of land to Nitin gadkari. So, as per rules, on 29 September 2006 Shri Komawar of the Irrigation Department Vadgaon wrote to the Sarpanch of the affected village that the unused land owned by the government should be given to the farmers to till on a first come first serve basis. (Exhibit 5 Letter from Irrigation Department to Sarpanch)
28 November 2007 VIDC Resolution (Exhibit 6): Further land handed over to Nitin Gadkari
VIDC passed resolutions number 8 related to the land which had been acquired from the farmers but not utilized in Khursapur Village, Taluka Umred, District Nagpur in the Vidarbha part of Maharashtra, by the Lower Vena Vadgaon Dam and had been given on lease to Purti Sinchan Kalyankari Sansthan Wardha.
It was discussed that 5.36 hectares was meant to be leased to Gems of India, Nagpur but the organization stated that they could not lease the land due to some difficulties and request VIDC to take it back from them. The committee discussed that the plot meant for Gems of India was adjoining the plot given to Purti Sinchan Kalyankari Sansthan Wardha by the earlier resolution No 23/2. It was discussed that Shri Nitin Gadkari, BJP Maharashtra President had requested, vide a letter, that this additional 5.36 hectares should also be given to Purti Sinchan Kalyankari Sansthan Wardha through a “special grant”. (Exhibit 6 )
Since it was already agreed to give away this 5.36 hectares, it was agreed that it would now be given to Purti Sinchan Kalyankari Sansthan Wardha through a special grant in stead of Gems of India. This was passed under resolution no 32/8 on 11 October 2007.
This resolution has been signed by the Irrigation Minister Shri Ajit Pawar and Irrigation Secretary Shri R M Landge
- On 6 June 2008 Ghadge and other affected villagers wrote to the local MLA stating that according to a Stage Government Directive, 1984, it was said that if land acquired by the Government was not utilized for 10 years it should be returned to the original land holders. They were not just original land owners, but they were also tilling the same land since 1982 and hence they said the land should be returned to them. They made the same request to the irrigation department. (Exhibit 7 Letter from villagers to the MLA)
- On 21 June 2008 Sub Divisional Engineer Shri Komawar called Ghade to the field. When Ghadge went there, officials of Purti Group Shri Dive, Shri Jhade, and Shri Chafle were with Shri Komawar. They all informed him that the land he has been tilling has been given to the Purti group by the government and he should hand over the possession. He refused to do so saying that how can they take away land he has been tilling for 15 years without even a prior notice. Some of the Purti officials and their henchmen began threatening and intimidating him and Ghadge fled from there.
Exhibit 1: Irrigation slips proving Gajanan RamBhauji Ghadge's continuous posession of the land.
Exhibit 2: Ghadge's application to CM Vilasrao Deshmukh requesting that he return the land that was not used in the dam.
Exhibit 3: Letter by irrigation department to Ghadge telling him that the excess land will be used for toursim purposes.
Exhibit 4: VIDC Resolution - Ajit Pawar sanctioning land on Nitin Gadkari's recommendation.
Exhibit 5: Letter from irrigation department to the sarpanch permitting him to give the excess land on lease to the villagers.
Exhibit 6: VIDC resolution with Ajit Pawar granting more land to Purti based on Nitin Gadkari's recommendation.
Exhibit 7: Letter from the villagers to the MLA requesting that the excess land be given to them.
Exhibit 8: Villager Ghadge's police compliant when his land was forcibly taken from his position by Purti.