Igatpuri : A large number of the proposed Nagpur-Mumbai Super Communication Expressway affected farmers from Nashik district said that injustice is being meted out to them by treating their Irrigated Farmlands as Dry Lands (Jirayat Lands). For example, the farmlands in Awchitwadi village of Igatpuri Tehsil earmarked for the proposed Expressway are being treated as Dry Lands (Jirayat Lands).
Farmer Madan Tukaram Binnar who has been farming regularly on his piece of land in Awchitwadi village of Igatpuri tehsil said, “I have been trying to get my irrigated land officially notified as irrigated land since last 2 years but to no avail. My land is still being shown as Dry Land (Jirayat).”
But one look at the multiple crops swaying in the wind even in scorching April on these so-called Dry lands (Jirayat) and one wonders with a touch of suspician how this land can be officially designated Dry Land (Jirayat) and why? Incidentally this land is just next to Bham river.
Good rain always brings cheer to Igatpuri’s farmers as it boosts paddy crop and recharges the ground water table. This rain contributes significantly to Nashik district’s pool of rice.
Cool wind blowing from this river that flows alongside these farmlands tempers the heat in Summer. Here the farmer is so blessed that nature itself makes his ‘Shivar’ ‘Jalyukta’. Availability of abundant water at his farm is the backbone of his prosperity. Madan cultivates a large number of varieties of crop round the year. He said, “Ghoti is within easy walking distance. We carry our stuff to Ghoti market which is famous here. We don’t face problems like water scarcity. We are logistically and financially contented farmers.”
Awchitwadi village is blessed with presence of 6 dams in the radius of 10 km. Former Sarpanch of this village Daulatrao Dubhashe said, “Fertile lands are the reason for the prosperity of Awchitwadi. We are unhappy beacause our 24 hectares farmlands are notified as Dry Lands (Jirayat) for the proposed Expressway.”
Average annual rainfall of Igatpuri tehsil is around 3000 mm. Another farmer Ravikant Narayan Kadu said, “Igatpuri receives highest rainfall in the district. Even according to agricultural science our lands are not Dry Lands (Jirayat). Treating our irrigated lands as Jiryat lands is an act of gross injustice to us.”
The Land Acquisition Act, 2013 has placed caps on acquisition of multi-crop and agricultural lands to prevent arbitrary and atrocious acquisition and to safeguard food security. But the Direct Purchase Programme for the proposed Expressway has ruled out measures meant to protect irrigated lands from acquisition. A farmer from Taloshi village, Bhaskar Gunjal said, “The government appears to have used every loophole in the rules to get hold of our lands anyhow. We have been rendered completely helpless.” Another farmer Ravikant Kadu said, “When I said that I would go to court, the government agent threatened me that if I did so I will be running to the court for the next 50 years for the case.”
This Direct Purchase Programme has also robbed the 19 Grampanchayats in Igatpuri Tehsil which are Scheduled Areas of Maharashtra (PESA) of their right to safeguard natural resources of their villages.