THE MOHALI district administration is flummoxed by the whopping four lakh people who have surfaced as owners of nearly 400 acres of land in Masol village. The village has an approximate population of 300 people. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is to acquire the land at Masol for beginning the excavation of prehistoric archaeological finds. The Government of India, through ASI, will be compensating the owners on whose land the excavation work will be carried out. The compensation amount is yet to be decided.
The revenue records of the village reveal only 35,000 mutations to date. However, while identifying the owners of the land under consideration, the Mohali district administration received a list of four lakh owners. Mohali Deputy Commissioner Gurpreet Kaur Sapra has now summoned the revenue officers with all the records to solve the mystery of four lakh landowners.
“Although prima-facie, it looks like a clerical mistake, we cannot take any chances. The number is unbelievable, but we shall get it thoroughly checked. I have asked officers concerned to come to me with entire records,” Sapra told Chandigarh Newsline.
ASI, on the other hand, is quite unhappy over the new development that may further delay the excavation project. A senior ASI official, not willing to be named, said, “We had identified around 150 acres of land out of a total of 400 acres, where the excavation shall begin. This was done a year ago and we had sent a detailed report to the district administration. After a year-long exercise to identify the stakeholders of the land, now the district administration has come up with a figure of four lakh landowners in the area.”
“During our survey, we found that most of the land that we require for excavation, was barren. I am surprised how such a high number of landowners has surfaced for barren land,” the officer added.
The village is located in the foothills of Shivalik range and surrounded by seasonal rivulets from two sides.
Local patwari (district revenue officer) Harvinder Kohli said, “I got a message in this regard from my senior officers who want us to recheck the number of landowners. The number is definitely quite high, but we shall recheck our records and submit a report to our senior officers.”
The village had hit the headlines when former French President Francois Hollande visited Chandigarh on an official visit. The fossils which were found by India-based Society for Archaeological and Anthropological Research (SAAR) and France’s National Scientific Research Centre (CNRS) were displayed for Hollande.
The research teams found fossils of fauna which were said to be the oldest fossils dating back to 2.6 million years. The discovery comprised 1,500 fossil finds over a period of seven years. Before these fossils, the oldest fossils were found in the Rift Valley of Ethiopia which are said to be 2.58 million years old.