In a Reserved Forest land scam to the tune of Rs 297 crores (at its present market value) in posh area of Pune, Central Empowered Committee of Hon’ble Supreme court has recommended Criminal Prosecution against Narayan Rane, Minister in the Maharashtra Government; Rajiv Agarawal IAS, Secretary to Government of India ; Prakash Thosare IFS, the then CCF, Pune and present Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Maharahstra; Prabhakar Deshmukh IAS and Vijay Kumar Gautam IAS ::: Supreme court declined to take adminstrative action against Ashok Khadse IFS
Pune: In a very strong recommendation, Central Empowered Committee of Supreme Court of India has recommended vide its letter dated 28th April 2008 addressed to Mr Johny Joseph, the then Chief Secretary, Maharashtra Government, deterrent action against Narayan Rane , Minister, Rajiv Agrawal IAS, the then Commissioner, Pune division, Prakash Thosare IFS the then Chief Conservator of Forests, Pune and Jwala Prasad IFS, the then Principal Chief Conservator of Forests along with the then DCF Pune. In its letter dated 28th April 2008, the CEC has recommended as follows:
- “It has been recommended that deterrent action should be taken against the present DCF, Pune, his immediate superior CCF , Pune ( read Prakash Thosare IFS), Collector , Pune and the present PCCF, Maharashtra Forest department (read Jwala Prasad IFS)”.
- Whereas in its recommendation of November 2008, CEC has recommended to Hon’ble Supreme court that the senior functionaries and officers of the Government responsible for allotment/ use of said reserved forest in violation of the FC Act and Hon’ble Supreme court’s order dated 12-12-96 should be prosecuted for criminal breach of trust and other provisions of the IPC. CEC was very specific in recommending prosecution against Narayan Rane, Rajiv Agrawal IAS, Vijay Kumar Gautam IAS.
The State Government has not taken any action in the matter till today. On the contrary, Prakash Thosare has recently been promoted to Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Maharashtra State.
BACKGROUND OF THE CASE:
- Under section 34 of Indian Forest Act 1878, in survey no. 20 of viallge Kondhwa BK, Tal Haveli , Pune, 32 acres and 35 guntha land was declared as reserved forest. Out of this, 3 acres & 20 guntha reserved forest was disforested vide notification dated 5-1-1934. The balance area of 29 acres & 15 gunthas was renumbered as Survey no. 21 Kondhwa BK . This balance area of survey no. 21 remained Reserved forest till today.
- Between 1898 to 1902 the forest areas of Pune were classified into four categories by Revenue & Forest department viz.
- Forest proper
- Fuel reserves
- Fodder reserves and mixed fuel & fodder reserves
The said classification has been accepted by the Government vide resolution dated 17th November, 1902. It was decided that areas identified as pastures will be transferred to the Revenue department and that pasrts of the pasture land may be given out for cultivation under general control of the Commissioner.
3. Pursuant to government resolution dated 17th November 1902, in the land records of the Revenue department the area of survey no. 21 Kondhwa Bk has been recorded as Government grazing ground. On the other hand, Forest department had not rectified the said transfer of land in its records, hence in the record of forest department, this land of survey no. 21 has been shown to be reserved forest under administrative control of the Forest Department.
4. That during 1960 an area of 36.31 acre in s.n. 37 of Kondhwa BK belonging to Chavan family has been acquired for Dr Bandorwala Leprosy Hospital and for which Rs 7424/- was fixed as compensation bby collector. As per Special Land Acquisition officer the compensation for the said land has not been delivered to the owners of the land acquired. In lieu of the acquired land, land owners requested for allotment of alternate government land at survey no. 20A and village Kondhwa Bk. The Tahsildar Haveli vide letter dated 13-5-1968, allotted 29 acres and 15 guntha (11.89 ha) area bearing survey no. 20-A Kondhwa Bk on Eksali 9(yearly) basis for cultivation to Mr Aba Ganu Chavan and three other members of the family. The Eksali lease has not been renewed thereafter.
5. From the year 1966-67 ownwards and till 1997-98 the names of Sripati Pandu Chavan , Kesu Hari Chavan , ABa Ganu Chavan and Baban Sripati Chavan are recorded as cultivators on yearly basis in revenue records.
6. That Forest department has neither objected nor booked any offence under the provisions of IFA 1927 for breaking the soil for agriculture purpose for almost 25 years . It was only in the year 1991, the then DCF Pune vide letter dated 18-3-1991 had written to the revenue authorities informing them that area in question is a reserved forest. Thus Revenue department should make necessary rectification in the revenue records.
7. On 19-6-1991, Collector Pune recommended for the grant of 3 acres 20 gunthas area out of 29 acres 15 guntha area of S.N. 21 (old S.N. 20-A) Kondhwa Bk to Abu Chavan, Baban Sripati Chavan, Keru Hari Chavan, Sripati Pandu Chavan. In the said recommendation it has been stated that the said area is a reserved forest and was given on Eksaali lease for one year during 1968-69 to proposed allottees for cultivation. Since only 3 acres and 20 gunthas of the land ( though as per revenue records it was 3.30 ha area was under cultivation and not 3 acres and 20 gunthas) was under cultivation hence as per rule, they are eligible for allotment of 3 acres and 20 gunthas land.
8. On 26-8-1994, the said land was refused to be allotted to MSEB by Collector , Pune on the ground that the said land is a reserved forest.
9. Surprisingly, Commissioner Pune division, had recommended to Government vide letter dated 30-11-1994, that as a special case the entire area of 11.89 ha reserved forest (29 acres 20 gunthas) be granted to the above said beneficiaries or their legal heir in proportion for cultivation and farming under Rule 19 of the MLRC ( Govt land nirgat) Rules 1971. It is not known , on what ground and whose persuasion & pressure, Commissioner, Pune had over ruled Collector’s recommendation. Needless to mention that market price of the land at present is more than Rs 200 crores.
CHANGE FROM PUBLIC/SEMIPUBLIC ZONE TO RESIDENTIAL ZONE:
10 In the regional plan of Pune sanctioned on 7-2-1976, the area of Survey no. 20A of Kondhwa BK was in Public/semi-public zone. The Government of Maharashtra has notified new Regional Plan on 25-11-1997. As per the entry MF-10 pertaining to planning unit “E” , the land (Reserved forest) in old s.n.20A (New survey no. 21) Kondhwa BK have been deleted from Public/semi-public zone and included in the Residential Zone. The letter dated 10-6-94 of Deputy Director Town planning reveals that above change has been made considering that the proposal for allotment of the said land is under consideration of the Government. Interesting point here is that this letter of DDTP dated 10-6-94 was written much prior to the letter of Commissioner , Pune dated 30-11-94 recommending grant of this land to Chavan. Hence at the time of DDTP letter there was no proposal under consideration before government as mentioned in DDTP’s letter. Thus , it is a clear cut case of Criminal Conspiracy.
11. This above change made in Regional plan made it possible for
- Subsequent grant of permission for the sale of land by the divisional commissioner, Pune
- Grant of non-agriculture permission by Collector , Pune
- Sanction of building plans by the Pune Municipal Corporation for construction of multi stories buildings and commercial use of the said land.
But for the above changes in the Regional Plan, the land could have been used only for agriculture purpose.
12. That Collector Pune vide his letter dated 6-6-1998 has informed to the Government that the said land as per mutation entry made in register of land the said area is shown as Reserved Forests whereas as per village records the area is shown as Government land. It was also stated in the letter that the area was under cultivation right from 1970-71. Subsequently, Collector, Pune vide letter dated 27-7-1998 asked the Government (Revenue & Forest Department) to confirm the said land is Reserved Forest.
ALLOTMENT OF RESERVED FOREST TO MEMBERS OF CHAVAN FAMILY:
13. Though Commissioner , Pune division & Collector, Pune tried their level best to convince government to allot the said land to Chavan family, but both revenue and forest departments at Mantralaya level did not agree with the Commissioner and Collectors’ view on the subject. Both Revenue and Forest departments took stand that in the present case prior approval of central government is required under Forest Conservation Act 1980 for its allotment for agriculture purpose.
- That even after this categorical view of both the departments that land in question is Reserved forests and provisions of Forest Conservation Act, 1980 are applicable in the case, Mr Narayan Rane, Revenue Minister in connivance with Law & Judiciary department of Government of Maharashtra, took the stand that the said land was granted for agriculture purpose by the government and that the applicant was using the said land continuously for such purpose and therefore, the provisions of the FC Act are not applicable in this case. He sought legal opinion on this point from L&JD, which confirmed the stand taken by Revenue Minister after which the Revenue Minister , Narayan Rane passed the order granting the Reserved forest land for agriculture purpose.
- The sanction for the allotment of 11.89 ha of Reserved forest land bearing Survey no. 21 of village Kondhwa Bk to Mr Abna Kanu Chavan and others for agriculture purpose was issued vide Revenue department’s letter dated 4-8-98 and 13-8-98. Thereafter, the District Collector, Pune , Mr Vijay Kumar Gautam passed the order dated 28-8-98 allotting the said reserved forest land to them as class two holders for agriculture purpose. The allotment order specifically provides that the allottees are not entitled to mortgage, sell or transfer the land without the prior permission of the District Collector, Pune and that the land shall not be used for any other purpose except for agriculture.
- Within a short period of 14 months after the allotment , the Divisional Commissioner , Rajiv Agrawal vide order dated 30-10-1999 granted permission for sale of the said land by the members of the Chavan family to the Chief Promoter, Richie Rich Cooperative housing Society subject to the payment of 75% Nazarana of the price as fixed by the Collector. The above permission was given without obtaining approval opf central government under FC Act. Needless to remind here is that land in question is still a reserved forest. It has not been disforested or deserved under the provision of Indian Forest Act at any given time.
- Nazarana amount of Rs 102.55 lacs ( One crore two lacs fifty five thousand) was deposited by Mr Anirudh Deshpande, Chairman of Richie Rich Cooperative Housing Society (RRCHS)on 10-1-2000. Thereafter, during year 2000, through 12 sale deeds executed in its favour M/S RRCHS purchased the said reserved forest from members of the Chavan family. Copy of Index II of one of such sale deed is dated 13-1-2000.
- The district collector Pune vide order dated 8-7-2005 granted non-agriculture permission for the construction of residential buildings in an area of 11,00,210 sq feet. Before grant of said permission approval under FC Act was not obtained. Such approval under FC Act would have been required even if the said land was originally allotted after obtaining the approval under FC Act.
- The Pune Municipal Corporation issued commencement certificate and sanctioned the building plans on 27-2-2006.
- The environmental clearance for the construction of residential, shopping and IT complex “Raheja Richmand Park” was granted by MoEF on 3-7-2007. The environmental clearance is for the construction of 1550 flats in five multi storied buildings varying from 17 to 25 floors, three club Houses, 32 row houses and shopping area in 14,000 sq feet. The built up area is to be 29,56,500 sq feet area.
TODAYS COST OF THE FLAT IN THE AREA IS @ 5000/- SQ FEET, HENCE ATUAL MONEY TO BE GENERATED FROM THE PROJECT IS Rs 5000* 2956500= 14,78,25,00,000 minus construction cost and cost of land .
NEXT PART OF THE STORY WOULD BE COVERING ROLE OF OFFICERS OF REVENUE , FOREST AND LAW & JUDICIARY DEPARTMENT