‘Airport plan grounded because government is not taking farmers into confidence’

Shivajirao Adhalrao Patil speaks about his party’s opposition to the new airport plan,the lack of coordination among the Pune MPs the speculation of his leaving the party.

Written by Express News Service | Published: July 23, 2013 3:24 am

At an Idea Exchange programme,Shiv Sena MP from Shirur Shivajirao Adhalrao Patil speaks about his party’s opposition to the new airport plan,the lack of coordination among the

Pune MPs on any issue and the speculation of his leaving the party.

Manoj More: Let’s start with the new airport plan. Is it true that you and your party,the Shiv Sena,are doing their best to stop the airport plan from taking off ?

There are a couple of reasons for me to oppose the airport near Chakan. About 10-12 years ago,land was notified for an airport with a single runway in Chakan. After a survey by the Ministry of Defence,it was realised that the land was not suitable from the Air Force angle. In 2004,they identified another place near Waki,which is further down Chakan. More than 65 per cent of the land was under agriculture. At that time,I had asked the Central government regarding the government’s policy about agricultural land being converted to non-agricultural land. In reply,the government had said more than 3 lakh hectares in the last five years have been converted to non-agricultural land. I had asked about the government’s stance on the issue. (Agriculture Minister) Sharad Pawar had said it was a state issue. He also said if land meant for acquisition has more than 65 per cent of agricultural land,it can’t be considered for any project. I objected on that basis. Also,the farmers were not taken into confidence.

Partha Sarathi Biswas: (Deputy CM) Ajit Pawar accused the Shiv Sena of playing destructive politics regarding the the airport. Your comment?

We are not playing any politics of destruction. Every chief minister,including Sharad Pawar,has asked me to resolve the issue. But I have strong issues about the government not taking the farmers into confidence and hence never supported the project.

Manoj More: Who is supposed to initiate the process of convincing the farmers?

The government machinery is supposed to do that. But they never did so. Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) started the survey without discussing the issue with the farmers. That is why we objected. During election campaigns,Sharad Pawar,Ajit Pawar and other leaders said if there is opposition,the airport project will be moved to Baramati or Saswad. But after elections,they put pressure from Mantralaya for land acquisition and that is why I objected to the project.

Manoj More: There seems to be a lot of confusion about the exact location of the airport. Could you throw some light on it?

Neither (Chief Minister) Prithviraj Chavan,nor Ajit Pawar know where the airport would come up. Now they say the airport would in the SEZ area,which is absolutely nonsense. Also,no one talks to me about the issue. Incase proper discussions are held,I would consider talking to the farmers also. However,no one from the government has ever discussed any issue with me as of now.

Pranav Kulkarni: It has been observed that land prices near any proposed airport site shoots up.

Yeah,it is true. I know many politicians,including MPs,MLAs and ministers,who own land there and whenever the site of the airport shifts they will sell off their land.

Partha Sarathi Biswas: What about the International Convention Centre? Will it see the light of day soon?

I have spoken to the chief minister regarding the project and I am keen that the project should come up in the same area. I have also spoken to the Pimpri-Chinchwad municipal commissioner and Pimpri-Chinchwad New Town Development Authority about the project.

Nanda Kasbe (FE): There is also the ongoing strike at Bajaj’s Chakan plant. I believe the unions met you too. What is your take on the issue?

There are many industries in and around Chakan. However,due to government support,the industries are taking undue advantage of the labourers. The very idea of MIDC was to give employment to the local people. But I have seen not more than 25 per cent of the employees are on their regular rolls,while the rest are contract employees. Other practices are also not according to norms. Bajaj labour leader Dilip Pawar had contacted me. After talking to them and understanding the case in detail,I decided to support them. Law and order and labour issues of Chakan are of great importance to me,and I hope this would be resolved soon. I am talking to the labour commissioner,minister and am optimistic about an early resolution.

Sunanda Mehta: What is your reaction to the recent Supreme Court’s judgment,overturning the ban on dance bars in the state?

All political parties want dance bars to be banned. We support the ban for many reasons. To maintain law and order situation,dance bars should be banned.

Manoj More: Gopinath Munde claimed that he spent Rs 8 crore to win the election. How much did you spend for your elections? Also,what do you think about Munde’s statement?

I spent around Rs 22 lakh during elections. I do not have to spend much during elections,as I spend my time and energy with my electorate round the clock. After elections,I spent a lot of money from my pocket. Talking about money being used for elections,I must say that the trend was started in Pune district by Ajit Pawar around 10 years ago. Shiv Sena workers have no money to spend on elections.

Partha Sarathi Biswas: Is this one of the reasons why Shiv Sena seems to have weakened in Pimpri-Chinchwad? Also,in the recently held Bhosari byelection,Shiv Sena gave NCP a cakewalk,why?

That is definitely one of the reasons,and this is the case across Maharashtra,not only in Pimpri-Chinchwad. Money is the key to Nationalist Congress Party’s success in the elections. The Bhosari seat was basically a BJP seat but their candidate ultimately joined the NCP. I was not there for the campaigning as I was in the United States.

Prasad Joshi: How is Shiv Sena doing after Balasaheb Thackeray? And what were your equations with him?

For the last 10-12 years,Uddhav Thackeray has been running the Shiv Sena,so there is no question about any change in the style of functioning. However,the moral support and zeal we Shiv Sainiks used to get after one sabha with Balasaheb would be missed. We used to get strength to fight with renewed strength. I had good equations with him even before I entered Shiv Sena. In 1982,when I started my own electronics business from Lamington Road,I asked him to inaugurate it and he agreed. When I decided to join the Shiv Sena in 2004,I met him and our relations had always been good. He was very happy that I managed to win a Shiv Sena seat in Pune district. I remember when I first won the election against Ashok Mohol,he told me I have defeated a big man in the elections.

Manoj More: There seems to be no end to infighting in the Shiv Sena in Pimpri-Chinchwad. And you also do not seem to be on talking terms with MP Gajanan Babar?

You will be surprised to know,Babar and I share good relations. There is hardly any infighting at higher levels,but there are clashes at lower levels. I do not want to say about Pune and Neelam Gorhe.

Ajay Khape: Although you are a senior MP,you do not get much involved in Pune or city politics. Why?

To be honest,rather than city politics,I prefer spending time with my electorate. Ambegaon,Khed,Bhosari,Shirur,Junnar are my areas. Even now my day starts at 7 am and ends at 2 am. I have neglected my home,business and family for the last 10 years. Even now,if I go for a tour of Karmodi or any other adivasi areas,I have dinner at midnight at some adivasi’s home and return home late.

Nanda Kasbe: What is the reason for your non-involvement in city politics?

The party’s structure does not permit me to take active interest in city politics. Also,I do not want to get involved much. The problem with my party structure is that elected representatives and office-bearers are treated in a different manner,which I do not like. They should be given equal playing field for betterment of the party. However,there is a gap between the two,which leads to confusion. For example,last time Neelam Gorhe went to Khed and said the government should give good package for the farmers losing their land for the airport. I have been fighting against the issue for years,and her statement was contradictory. Arvind Sawant too made a similar statement.

Manoj More: There were rumours,especially during the elections,that you will leave the Shiv Sena and join another party. Are these rumours true?

Since 2005,such rumours have been doing the rounds and they are being spread and fuelled by NCP leaders. I refuse to comment on such rumours. I will leave politics but will never leave Shiv Sena. For me,politics is not important. I love industry,I love social work.

Sunanda Mehta: Do you see yourself more as a politician or an industrialist?

I am now confused,but would prefer to call myself a man of industry.

Chandan Haygunde: Your name was mentioned in connections with Dow Chemicals by Wikileaks. Your comment.

It was a statement,in Wikileaks,that I suggested Dow Chemcials should hire a certain PR agency. The issue assumed political overtone when the speaker of the state assembly gave directions to CID to investigate my connections. If ethics are considered,he should not have taken my name as I was not a member of the House. Following his directions,CID investigated the claims and gave me a clean chit. When the Consulate Agency came to meet me post violent protests by villagers,I asked them to talk to the villagers and employ NGOs to win the confidence of the villagers. At first,I was the one who started objecting to Dow. Even now I have cases going on against me regarding this.

Manoj More: Is there any chance of a well-equipped rural hospital like Yaswantrao Chavan Memorial Hospital or Sassoon General coming up in Rajgurunagar,Manchar or Chakan for rural people?

I spoke to the minister and had proposed a rural hospital,which was supported by the chief minister. The proposal is still pending with the Union ministry. This Central government is very lethargic to take any decision. For example,I am on the Standing Committee for Defence,and have written at least 40 letters about the overbridge in Ghorpadi,the red zone in Bhosari and Dehu Road. Pranab Mukherjee,when he was the defence minister,was responsive but the present minister does not even acknowledge our letters.

Prasad Joshi: What is the status of Pune-Nashik railway link?

The Pune-Nashik railway link is finally through. In 2005,I started working on the Pune-Nashik railway project and got to know that it had been put off as the investment was not feasible. I asked the minister to go for another investment and then the project was economically feasible. The railway minister agreed to the project provided the state government agreed to sharing 50 per cent of the project cost. Public Private Partnership was also considered but was later dropped. It was announced in the Union Railway Budget and has gone to the Planning Commission. Land acquisition would be an issue though.

Pranav Kulkarni: What is your reaction to the foreign direct investment (FDI) in the defence sector?

I am against FDI in the defence sector. This would be a major killer of Indian players in the sector.

Manoj More: Is there coordination between MPs from Pune about issues related to the city?

There is hardly any coordination between us. Babar and I meet on a daily basis but (Suresh) Kalmadi is not available most of the time and it is difficult to communicate or discuss issues with Supriya Sule. Also,the issue of taking credit comes up. I raised the issue of conservation of Mula-Mutha river on my own and got Rs 100 crore sanctioned.

Sunanda Mehta: You had supported Anna Hazare’s movement and were one of the three MPs who went to Delhi to meet him during his fast. Do you think Anna’s movement is likely to have an impact on the 2014 elections?

The movement has lost its fizz and I don’t think it would have any effect on the elections. I guess the difference of opinion between Hazare and his colleagues was the reason for the failure of the movement. The movement was good for the country.

Pranav Kulkarni: What do you think about Narendra Modi?

Personally,I feel he is capable of becoming the next Prime Minister. He is an able administrator and the whole country looks up to him. The kind of development he has done in Gujurat is really commendable. I do not want to discuss about Godhra,it was a local issue. Besides social harmony,the country requires strong economy and growth.

(Transcribed by

Partha Sarathi Biswas)

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