The new Land Acquisition Act (LAA) that came into force from January 1 may affect the security of INS Shivaji in Lonavla, thanks to the ongoing delay in acquiring a 11-acre plot adjacent to the Naval establishment. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) had given its nod to acquire it in 2010.
While the MoD has sanctioned Rs 4.5 crore to buy this private property overlooking INS Shivaji, the builders/ owners of the property claim the estimated value of the plot stood at a whopping Rs 100 crore in April 2012 itself. “Apply the amended LAA and the price may be four times the value of the plot,” the builders claim. After a further push for acquisition, the builders have now threatened to move the court.
The story of this 11-acre plot, gut no. 173 of Kurwande village, adjacent to INS Shivaji dates back to 2009, when work on the seven high-end forest houses, each overlooking the INS Shivaji campus and the lake within, began.
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According to the original plan, approved by Pune district collector on November 3, 2009, the builders constructed seven forest houses in the premises, which according to the builders were complete by May 31, 2010, the same day when INS Shivaji invoked Works of Defence Act 1903 citing security reasons.
According to an official of the DEO, Pune circle, the acquisition should have been complete by now. “The MoD had approved the budget in June 2011 and the survey of the land was expected to be complete by March 2012. Ideally, by now, the acquisition process should have been in final stages,” the official said.
Blaming the district collectorate for dragging the case so long, the official said, “The survey report of the plot came in only in September 2012 followed by the procedural delays on behalf of the Special land Acquisition Officer (SLAO). We had a meeting with the present collector Vikas Deshmukh on November 19, 2013, who pulled the SLAO, after which the process has gained momentum. We have paid Rs 69 lakh as the initial amount towards the acquisition,” the official said.
How far the payment by DEO will help is a question given the disparity in amount sanctioned by MoD and price claimed by the builder. Hikmat Udan, one of the builders/owners of the plot said, “We have sold three- four bungalows to private individuals, so the acquiring authorities will have to take their consent before further processing the land acquisition procedure. Moreover, as per the new Land Acquisition Act, the price of the land is four times more. In any case, we don’t want to let go of our plots.”
The present claim of the builder may be viewed against their claimed price in 2012, which stood at Rs 100 crore. “The government-approved evaluator had understated the value of the land at 51.16 crore.market value of our property is not less than Rs 100 crore,” the builders had said in a letter to district collector dated April 20, 2012. The builders have also been questioning the security needs of a ‘training establishment’ such as INS Shivaji.
Despite repeated attempts, Vikas Deshmukh, district collector did not answer calls. To a text message explaining the case, he replied, “(I am) with CM”. When this reporter had earlier approached INS Shivaji regarding the case, its spokesperson had maintained that they would not comment on the matter.