Ordered to return tribal land, HCC hits back

Mumbai, Oct 7 (IANS) Stung by an order to return around 23.75 hectares of tribal land, the Hindustan Construction Company Ltd. on Wednesday hit back at the Maharashtra government claiming it had not bought the land from the tribals but subsequent buyers.

This is the first time (on Tuesday) that 23.75 hectares of the Lavasa Corporation Ltd’s (LCL) land was declared as ‘tribal land’. The original land records never made this declaration though it is mandatory under the Maharashtra Land Revenue Code, 1966, Sec. 36(a), the Hindustan Construction Company Ltd. (HCC) said in a statement.

Last month, Subhash Borkar, a sub-division officer in the state Revenue Department, ordered the LCL to return the land notified for tribals but given to the company to construct its posh private hill-station coming up on 23,000 acres of land in Pune district.

The SDO’s order followed a complaint by the National Alliance for Peoples Movement (NAPM) some time ago.

“The LCL has not bought these lands directly from the allottees. These were sold by the allottees 15-20 years ago, and they have changed two-three times before LCL bought these lands from the latest owners on record,” the HCC said.

The company pointed out that every tribal land carries a specific remark indicating its status and it requires permission from the state government.

“Had the tribal status of the land known from the entry of remark, the LCL would have bought the lands with proper permission… No such remarks were there on the land record of these lands,” the company said.

Additionally, it said, the Reg. 17, Special Regulation for Hill Stations, 1996 specifically states that the government in Revenue Department, shall grant permission to the Owner/Developer of such project to purchase the tribal land in the project area as per the provisions of MLR Code Sec.36(a).

“All this has happened because there is no Title Guarantee given by the state for land that anyone buys despite being the official keeper of land records. This is one more thing that the government will have to do under its Ease of Doing Business initiative,” it said.

However, it claimed that the order will not have bearing on the LCL’s current or future development as the tribal lands chunk is in hilly unbuildable areas on the HCC’s private hill station mega-project.

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