The past few weeks have seen a sudden flurry of activity centered around the open plots of land at Wanowrie ahead of Sacred Heart Town.
Spread over approximately 48 acres in three broad chunks, a part of the area has been used by people for walks and even the odd game of cricket / football. There is also a laughter club that meets here each morning.
Almost exactly a year ago, signs were put up all over the place, mentioning “Harshavardhan Group of Companies”, along with a shed for the security guards at various locations.
In all the time that the signs were there, nobody seemed to mind or even care about what exactly was going on or even about the activities planned by this group, and life went on merrily.
I remember there were some of us who discussed this and the potential implications if more concrete structures were to come up and destroy the serenity and peace that existed so far.
All of a sudden, a month or so ago, those ugly blue boards were put up around the land, indicating that some work was actually going to start. This finally seemed to shake people out of their lethargy and a lot of noises are now being made about the legality of the whole thing.
The Harshvardhan Group of Companies is planning a commercial-cum-residential project, allegedly without necessary sanctions, as it is a “Mahar watan land.”
A Mahar watan land is granted to people by the government and it cannot be sold without the permission of the divisional commissioner / district collector. This land has a current market valuation of nearly Rs.350 crore.
Last year, a stay order was passed rendering the agreement between the collector and the watandars null and void. It was also mentioned that no group can put up fences or show ownership of land until further orders.
What gets me the most is that people chose to sleep over the matter for over a year, and have woken up only now, when likelihood of all that land being take over is a very realistic threat. If it was being taken over to create a proper park or a walking plaza / joggers park / something along those lines, I don’t think anyone would’ve objected.
However, the builder issued a public notice saying that he is using the land only for “agriculture purposes”, but has printed brochures with plans to develop the area under the name ‘Eledora’, with shopping malls, multiplex, restaurants, corporate park and a star hotel with exclusive apartment units.
There are anyway few open spaces left in the city, and I hope our “wise” city fathers realise the need to keep them as is, and not plonk more concrete monsters all over the place !