Arvind Kejriwal exposé targets BJP

Kejriwal says Nitin Gadkari's acts led to farmer suicides and windfall for power,sugar cos.

Written by Agencies | New Delhi | Published: October 17, 2012 5:29 pm

India Against Corruption (IAC) continued its tirade against politicians Wednesday,targetting BJP chief Nitin Gadkari in the second ‘expose’ after Robert Vadra a week ago.

”Are Gadkari’s business interests clashing with that of the farmers of Vidarbha?” Kejriwal asked.

He took the instance of a village in Umraid taluka,Nagpur where land was given to Gadkari for farming. Kejriwal said this land,almost 100 acres,was excess after a dam was completed. The original owners who had given up this land wanted it back from the government as it was excess,he said. ”They were all farmers. They were told after much delay that the land was for beautification. But this land was later given to Gadkari. Why not to farmers?” Kejriwal asked. Kejriwal also accused then Maharashtra irrigation minister NCP’s Ajit Pawar of illegally favouring him in this matter.

Kejriwal questioned why Nitin Gadkari did not raise his voice when water for irrigation was being ”diverted to power companies”. ”This is because Nitin Gadkari runs five power plants in Vidarbha and three sugar factories,” he said.

Earlier IAC member Anjali Damania had accused Gadkari of refusing to help expose the irrigation scam in Maharashtra.

HIGHLIGHTS

* Why can’t BJP expose Cong corruption like IAC,asks Arvind

* What kind of links does BJP have with Cong,asks Kejriwal

* Gadkari’s biz empire’s interest clashing with farmers: Arvind

* Are farmers committing suicide because of Gadkari,asks Arvind

* Nitin Gadkari given huge tracts of land by Ajit Pawar: Arvind

* Farmers’ land given to Gadkari by flouting rules: Kejriwal

* Land was virtually taken by force from farmers: Kejriwal

* Money being sent by Centre state for dams,but corruption makes them dysfunctional

* Most of the water from these dams has been diverted by Ajit Pawar to sugar and power companies

* 71 power plants likely to come up in Maharashtra

* if these are built all the water from irrigation dams will be diverted to power companies

* 5 power plants of Nitin Gadkari in Maha

* 3 sugar companies in Maha belong to Gadkari

* Rs 70,000 cr worth of public money spent on irrigation: Bhushan

* This money was given to contractors in return for bribes: Bhushan

Read Kejriwal’s full report:

Is BJP in opposition?

Or are BJP leaders in bed with ruling parties?

Whose interests does Mr Gadkari represent?

Is there a conflict between the interests of Maharashtra farmers and Mr Nitin Gadkari’s businesses?

Is Mr Gadkari’s business flourishing in Maharashtra at the cost of dying farmers?

Anjali Damania learnt about the corruption going on in construction of irrigation dams in Maharashtra. She filed several RTI applications and exposed the scam. She filed a PIL in Bombay High Court in April 2012. Agitated by the scam,she met Sh Nitin Gadkari on 14th Aug 2012 to request him to take up the issue strongly.

She was completely shocked to hear Gadkari’s response. He said – “How could you expect us to speak against Mr Sharad Pawar? Chaar kaam wo hamare karte hain,chaar kaam hum unke karte hain.”

Mr Gadkari has denied any relations with NCP or its leaders. Anjali set out to find the truth. The investigations carried out by her and others in the last one month have given a glimpse into what are these “chaar kaam” that NCP has done for Mr Gadkari.

Details of “Chaar Kaam”

We attach herewith stories of two families from a village. Land in this village was acquired by Maharashtra government to construct dams. Land acquired was far in excess of actual requirements. According to rules,the excess land should either be returned to farmers or leased out to them for farming. Flouting these rules and despite repeated requests from farmers,the excess land was handed over to Nitin Gadkari’s organizations by Ajit Pawar,the then Irrigation Minister. This was also in violation of rules because land belonging to irrigation department cannot be transferred or leased to private organizations. When farmers protested,they were threatened by Gandkari’s henchmen.

Since Anjali set out on her investigations,Ghadge,the farmer from Umred,is being repeatedly threatened by Gadkari’s men. This morning,he called up Anjali and started crying as he could not stand the pressures.

It is well known that farmers in this region have been committing suicides in large nos. These dams have been constructed for providing water for irrigation to farmers in this region. Central Government has also been generous in granting funds for construction of these dams. However,almost the entire water is being diverted for power and sugar industry. For instance,in Umred taluka,Lower Vena Vadgaon Dam was meant to provide irrigation water to these farmers. This dam has just one canal,which is non-functional. So,there is no question of the water reaching the farmers for irrigation. Instead,the entire water from this dam has been permitted to be used by Nitin Gadkari’s firms and other industries in that area.

This is the story of almost all dams constructed in Maharashtra in the last few years. Almost the entire water from these dams is being diverted to power industries,which have mushroomed on the banks of these dams. Power industries need a lot of water. Ajit Pawar has diverted water meant for irrigation to power industry on large scale. These industries either belong to politicians from all parties or have strong political connections across all parties. Therefore,none of the parties wish to raise this issue.

Some people might argue – doesn’t the country need electricity? Even if the dam water is being diverted for producing power,what is wrong in it? We completely agree that the country needs power. But the water to power industry should be provided honestly and in a transparent manner. It is cruel to divert the water meant for irrigating the lands of dying farmers. Huge funds are sanctioned for constructing dams to save the dying farmers. In order to construct dams,their lands are forcibly acquired,making their condition further miserable. But finally,the water from these dams is completely diverted to some industrialists through deceit? Isn’t that wrong?

When the interests of farmers were being sold out to favorite industrialists,why was Nitin Gadkari silent? Why did he not raise his voice against it? Thirty-three new coal based thermal power projects have been given approval as of 2010 and another 38 are pending approval. When these 71 plants come up,they will need 2049 million cubic meters of water per year due to which there will be not a drop of water for irrigation in a region where farmers commit suicide every day.

Nitin Gadkari himself has five such power producing industries and three sugar industries in Maharashtra. And that is the reason why Nitin Gadkari did not wish to raise the issue of corruption in irrigation dams. In a short span,Gadkari has built a huge business empire in a short period with more than 15 companies in sectors including construction,sugar,distillery,power,coal,agro etc

Nitin Gadkari wrote a letter to Sh Pawan Bansal in central Government requesting him to release Rs 400 crores to contractors constructing irrigation dams. When this issue got highlighted in media,Gadkari said that he had written five such letters and would write ten more similar letters. He said that he wrote these letters because he was worried about the condition of the farmers and wanted that the dams should be constructed soonest. Did he write even a single letter to any government and request them not to divert farmers’ water to industrialists?

In some areas,Gadkari’s companies are a source of huge pollution causing inconvenience to local people. For instance,in Umred,Gadkari owns a power industry. Fly ash from this industry is polluting the air in that village causing breathing problems for the villagers. Likewise,flyash has been disposed in local river thus polluting the entire river. Despite repeated complaints from the villagers,obviously,no action has been taken by the government because the Gadkari has excellent relations with all parties in power.

In this short while,Anjali has been able to find out the above “chaar kaam” that ruling parties have done for Nitin Gadkari. If thorough investigations are carried out,many more such instances would emerge.

When Mr Gadkari receives a favor from the ruling coalition of Congress-NCP in Maharashtra in the form of irrigation dam water and farmers’ lands,what does he offer in return as quid pro quo? He mortgages the trust of the people of India. He assures them that as opposition,he would not allow his party to speak against ruling establishment’s corruption. He assures them that even if his party is forced to oppose due to media pressures or political compulsions,the opposition would merely be cosmetic. He is correct in saying – “How can we oppose them? Chaar kaam wo hamare karte hain,chaar kaam hum unke karte hain.” For him,politics is meant to enhance business opportunities rather than fight for people’s rights. Due to the inherent compulsions of his business empire,is it possible for him to head the main opposition party of India?

Is Mr Gadkari a businessman or a politician? A politician is expected to fight for aam aadmi. A politician is expected to fight against the injustice and corruption of ruling establishment. In that struggle,a politician is expected to face consequences. In sharp contrast,a businessman,due to the compulsions of his business,tries to keep all parties happy. So,can a big businessman ever be expected to honestly represent people’s interests?

It is strange that BJP has amended its constitution to accommodate another term for Nitin Gadkari.

The story of Gajanan Ghadge and other villagers

1982

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.

1997

The Dam was completed and the entire submergence area was filled with water and he lost most of his land. However,there was nearly100 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

2008

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.

A few days later,when Ghadge was out of town,Purti people forcibly took possession of his land. They fenced the field that was lying ploughed and even planted soyabean overnight. On his return on 28 June 2008 he made a police complaint about the same. (Exhibit 8 Ghadge’s NC) Ghadge spoke to the MD of Purti but was threatened and told “do what you can” but you will not get the land back.

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