ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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For Land and Water

The government first grabs the land of farmers and then it shoots to kill those who protest.

In 9 August, three farmers in Maharashtra’s Maval taluka in Pune district were shot dead by policemen. They were part of a larger crowd protesting against a water pipeline project. Television coverage of the protest showed some policemen chasing and firing at the fleeing, unarmed farmers, while others flung stones at the retreating protestors. The opposition to the closed pipeline project in Maval taluka is one amongst several similar protests in Maharashtra that have resulted in police firings and legal battles. They include the Lavasa planned city near Pune, the Jaitapur nuclear power plant in Ratnagari district, the 1,320 megawatt (MW) Sophia power project in Amravati and the 1,350 MW coal-based thermal power plant at Sinnar, near Nashik. All these are being opposed by local residents and the central issues are identical to those emerging in other parts of the country in recent times: land acquisition, water distribution and environmental concerns.

The opposition of the Maval farmers to the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation’s (PCMC) 36-km pipeline, funded under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), has been reinforced by the pitiable fate of fellow villagers who gave their land for the Pavna dam in 1972. After 40 years, many of them are still awaiting compensation while others have received measly amounts and land has yet to be officially handed over to them. Many people in this area had earlier given away land for the Mumbai-Pune expressway and other industrial hub projects. They have grown steadily distrustful of the government’s intentions due to unfulfilled promises. As a result, in Maval, apart from the reluctance to give away part of their land, the farmers – who have opposed the pipeline ever since the foundation stone was laid in 2008 – fear that they will no longer get water from the Pavna dam which irrigates their land.

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