Pune resettlement officer should be thrown in the dam: Bombay HC to Maharashtra govt
Annoyed over the fact that farmers uprooted from their ancestral homes for public projects like dams have not been resettled for years, the Bombay high court on Monday slammed the Maharashtra government for its lackadaisical approach in rehabilitating farmers affected by Chaskaman dam in Pune district.
“He (the resettlement officer of Pune district) should be thrown in the dam,” said the division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice Girish Kulkarni expressing utter displeasure over delay in resettling the farmers despite repeated court orders. “He has a seat to sit,” said the chief justice while hearing petition filed by one of the affected farmers, Bajirao Bombale. “He gets a monthly salary, even if he doesn’t do anything. He doesn’t feel the pinch,” said the bench terming the resettlement officer’s attitude as callous and negligent.
The comments came after Bombale’s lawyer, Shakuntala Wadekar, pointed out that in all 396 applications filed by families that were displaced for the Chaskaman dam have been pending since 2013 and some of the families have been rendered destitute, as they can be seen wandering about on streets. “I have myself seen an old woman, who has lost her son and daughter-in-law, holding the hands of her young grandchildren and wandering on streets,” said Wadekar, adding, “It is really painful to see them like that.”
Bombale has approached the high court seeking an alternative land in village Dawadi in Pune district so that he can resettle his family, as his land along with his ancestral house has been acquired by the government for the dam.
When the bench said they expect the resettlement officer to open his eyes, an assistant government pleader objected saying the court must not use such harsh words. This led the judges to question what was more harsh, their words or what has been done to the farmers. “They have no house, no land for their livelihood. Nobody bothers,” said the bench.
The court has now summoned the district collector of Pune to court on the next hearing. He would be asked to explain the bench as to what steps he proposed to take to resettle the famers displaced by Chaskaman project. The judges also said they will arrange Lok Adalat, if needed, only for Chaskaman-affected persons.