The non-descript drought-prone village of Pargaon Memane in Purandar taluka, 35-40 kms from the city, has been suddenly thrust into the limelight with the state government zooming in on the village for the proposed international airport for Pune.
With a fleet of government vehicles doing the rounds of Pargaon Memane and other villages of Ikhatpur, Munjwadi, Khanwadi, Rajewadi and Waghapur in the last two weeks, conducting ground and aerial surveys, the villagers are hoping that along with the airport, their dream of development for this arid patch too will take off.
The village is located in a patch that largely remains arid throughout the year. However, this year, the area witnessed a few spells of rain which brought some greenery.
Along with the government’s activity, signboards by realtors and investors have also started springing up.
A Newsline team, which followed the route of the survey as carried out by the 15-member team from the Airport Authority of Indian and the MADC from Belsar to Pargaon Memane, found that the villages along the stretch are well aware of a possibility of the airport coming up in their area.
Over the last two weeks, Haribhau Memane (49), a grocer has seen a fleet of vehicles doing the rounds of the village, officials having a close look at the area, taking measurements and generally looking positive. “We welcome the project as our village and taluka will finally see such a mega project which will not only bring overall development in these villages but also generate employment,” he says.
Memane says these villagers were earlier known to be drought-prone, with most parts largely dependent on tankers, but now the area gets drinking water from the closed pipeline from the Nazre dam.
His wife Shobha says “The villagers are in favour of development as it would bring employment for the locals.”
Though the couple favours development, they also feel that those giving up land for the project should get adequate benefits.
The villagers say they do not want to miss the opportunity this time around as the area was under consideration for an airport 10 years back too. However, the government had then approved the Chakan site, but with stiff opposition and required land for the proposed airport not being available, the government later shelved the plan.
Appa Jagtap, a tailor who owns nearly five acres of land at Rajewadi, says he would be more than willing to give up his arid land if he gets a good price which he can invest elsewhere. “The survey is on and those whose land will be acquired should get a good price.”
Sarpanch Jitendra Memane says they would hold a gram sabha shortly to decide on how they should take the said project ahead. “It is a good step which has been well supported by all. We want all the villagers to be positive about the project. We would be talking to them,” he says.
However, former sarpanch Laxman Gaikwad expressed his doubts on whether the airport would benefit the farmers. “Our area is famous for its veggies, tomatoes and pomegranates. Will the airport help the poor farmers?” he says.
But Gaikwad is in minority. Amol Kumbhar, a youth, says the plan will bring in more industries and generate employment opportunities so that people do not have to move to Pune city or Mumbai.
Realtors move in too
Meanwhile, the last two weeks have seen a steady flow of investors and realtors. Advertisement boards have started dotting the landscape.
A realtor from Pune city launched his project last week. “We had the plot in the area for the last 10 years. However, with news of the airport coming to these areas, we thought it was the right time to launch our project,” he says.
Even as the Ready Reckoner puts the land price per acre at Rs 5-7 lakh, villagers are talking in terms of Rs 40-45 lakh per acre in the hope that they get a good compensation if their land is acquired. “The new land acquisition policy rules state they would get three times the RR rate and this would mean a bounty for them,” said an official.
The taluka is also home to Jejuri MIDC which has over the years seen a steady stream of investments. “Nearly Rs 1000 crore investments are scheduled in this area and the airport will only add to more investments,” say MIDC officials.
Water Resources Minister Vijay Shivtare, who is from this area, has been more than keen to bring the project here. He, however, says he is treading cautiously and has held meetings with villagers to convince them. “It is at an initial stage and we do not want any kind of negativity in the minds of the people towards this project,” Shivtare says.