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Kanchan Chaudhari, Hindustan Times
Mumbai, January 10, 2013
Three local residents of Dhutum village in Uran tehsil have allegedly usurped 40 acres of local government land - worth more than Rs. 360 crore - and destroyed mangroves spread over 21 acres in order to set up private container depots on the land, a public interest litigation filed in the Bombay high court states.

The division bench of justice Ajay Khanwilkar and justice Ashok Bhangale has directed the Revenue and Forests Department to file an affidavit stating whether the allegations made in the PIL filed by Dhanaji Thakur, sarpanch of village Dhutum, were true.

The village headman has stated in his PIL that three local residents - brothers Pandurang, Ram and Narayan Thakur - had usurped the common cattle grazing land of the village. The PIL, filed through advocate Rahul Thakur, stated that the trio had destroyed mangroves spread over 21 acres by dumping debris and had leased out the land to private container depots.

The government had, in 1940, leased three hectares of the cattle grazing land to the predecessor in the title of the three brothers for agricultural purposes, the PIL states. It adds that after Dhanaji Thakur lodged several complaints, on January 28, 2008, tehsildar, Uran, had issued a notice to the three brothers calling upon them to show cause why the land should not be forfeited to the government, and in reply to the notice, the trio had specifically admitted that they had carried out unauthorised development on the land to the extent of 40 acres.

According to the PIL, the land adjoining sector 1 and 2 of CIDCO's Dronagiri Node is valued at more than Rs360 crore and the trio have leased it out to several private entities.