With their wish of seeing Shiv Sena legislator Eknath Shinde becoming the chief minister coming true, residents of Shinde’s native village Dare in Satara district, along with all the 104 villages along the Koyna river, are celebrating with a hope that their long-pending demands of proper roads, hospitals and schools will finally be met.
Dare, which has only about 30 houses, is situated on the banks of the Koyna river in a remote, backward belt, about 70 km from the hill town Mahableshwar, on the foothills of the Sahyadri Hills. The village is skirted by the forest reserve on one side and Koyna on the other. Most of its houses are locked as their inhabitants are migrant labourers who work in Mumbai and Pune in the absence of any regular source of income in the village.
“We have just received the news of Eknath Shinde becoming the chief minister of the state. The villagers are very happy and are hopeful of seeing development in the village,” said Laxman Shinde, sarpanch of Dare village.
He said the villagers are presently glued to the television sets watching the political developments in Mumbai. “We will meet and decide on how to celebrate the moment. It is a proud moment for us,” said the sarpanch.
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Anand Nalwade of Walne village near Dare said there are a total of 105 villages alongside Koyna which have been struggling for long due to lack of development. “Shinde was our only hope. We are very happy that he has become the chief minister. Life will change for us now as the chief minister is from our area,” he said.
The main issue, which is pending for a long time, is the rehabilitation of the people affected due to the construction of the Koyna dam. Nalawade said he is confident that Shinde will resolve the issue in the interest of the affected villagers.
“The children have to cross the river to attend school and the ailing residents of these villages have to travel a long distance for medical assistance. All these will end as the new chief minister will bring in a lot of development work in the area,” he said, adding, the development of the area will create employment opportunities for the villagers.
Significantly, there is neither a school nor a hospital in Dare, and the nearest place for the villagers to access any educational or health facilities is Tapola at a distance of 50 km by road or 10 km by boat. Tapola is situated on the other side of the Koyna river. Dare has, however, seen the setting up of two helipads as Shinde always arrives at his village in a chopper.
Tanaji Sapkal of Gaodoshi village near Dare said, “We are keen to meet the new chief minister of the state. He will change our life for good. The area does not have proper roads and is connected only by a bridge on the Koyna river. Shinde becoming the chief minister has raised our hopes for a proper school, health facilities and basic infrastructure.”
All the 105 villages alongside the Koyna river are prone to heavy rainfall leading to landslides. Sapkal said, “The state government will surely look into our concerns and solve our problems.”
Sapkal, who in the past led the Shiv Sena in the Koyna area, said, “The area is politically dominated by the Nationalist Congress Party but now Shiv Sena under Shinde will grow in Koyna as well as other parts of Satara district.”
According to his affidavit filed with the Election Commission for contesting the 2019 Assembly polls, Shinde, a four-time MLA from Thane’s Kopri-Pachpakhadi constituency, has bought 12.45 acre of agricultural land in Dare in December 2018 at a cost of Rs 21.21 lakh while his son and Sena MP Shrikant Shinde bought 22.68 acre of land at Rs 26.51 lakh in November 2017 in the village. The family is building a palatial farmhouse on their land that will see Dera’s first concrete road being linked to the village road.
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