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Land grab in Thane for Mumbai-Nagpur highway, says activist

A complaint filed by Thane-based activist Baban Harne with the principal secretary of revenue department, Manu Kumar Srivastav, last month points to certain individuals, including a relative of a senior bureaucrat in the chief minister’s office, purchasing large tracts of land with six others along the highway, in violation of the Maharashtra Agriculture Land Ceiling Act, 1961.

According to this law, a farmer can hold 18 acres of irrigated land or 27 acres of land with assured irrigation for one crop or 54 acres of dry crop land. Additional land belonging to any person is to be taken back by the government.

With chief minister Devendra Fadnavis’ promised probe into claims that government officials illegally purchased land along the Mumbai-Nagpur expressway going nowhere, an activist with farmers’ group Shetkari Sangharsh Samiti has taken matters into his own hands. He has moved the revenue department seeking answers.

“Our preliminary calculations based on land records show this group of people, led by a senior official’s relative, own nearly 200 hectares or 480 acres of land in just Thane district. There needs to be an independent scrutiny into the lands owned by them, its classification, because this surplus land holding is illegal and at the cost of the government. There has been blatant disregard of laws and false affidavits to get these lands regularised and this has the blessings of seniors in the government,’’ said Harne. Harne said if the revenue department fails to do justice, they would move the high court in the matter.

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