Many houses in villages across the highway have been demolished in the road widening process

Villagers protests against misplaced compensation: PWD officer says not our problem

By Anamika Gharat | Mumbai

Updated: Jan 18, 2019, 08:45 IST

Property owners claim to have lost homes, land, money and more, owing to incorrect measurements by PWD officials

While the demolition of Narayan Rane's bungalow on the Mumbai-Goa NH17 around September last year assured locals of a just and fair system, the feeling was short-lived. Many villagers still struggle to get their land re-measured from PWD officials after receiving much lower or no compensation against their properties across the highway. A letter regarding re-evaluation was sent by the deputy collector to the PWD but a senior PWD officer earlier this week said that his juniors weren't following his orders. "If the juniors are not doing their work properly, then that is not our problem," the PWD officer told villagers.

The PWD officials had also created issues during the measurements in Tara village near Panvel on the NH17. The deputy collector had issued orders for revaluation of properties in Tara village twice. But no action has been taken. PWD officials had initially taken three different measurements of the same house, revealed an RTI query filed in the case.

Project-affected Narendra Ghodinde, who lost much of his money visiting the PWD office for a re-evaluation of his property, and also lost his mother around the same time, said, "Before the collector decided to demolish our house, we had requested for a re-evaluation. His office promised to do so and even sent notices to the PWD but we have only been visiting the PWD office every other day for the last four months. I have lost all my savings and now live in a rented house with my paralysed wife and young son. He too has quit studying to help me."

Ghodinde owned a 1,400-feet ground-plus-one home, which was valued at R21.85 lakh in the first letter sent by the government. However, another letter in 2016 quoted a meager R1.25 lakh. "We have all the RTI documents in this regard and the different valuations done by the PWD department. They do not answer our questions. Senior PWD officer Rajendra Patil told us that he had instructed his juniors to do the valuation but they did not listen to him," complained Harshal Teje, another affected villager.

Patil, when called by mid-day, heard the problem and disconnected the line. PWD principal secretary Manoj Saunik said that he would look into the matter. The broadening of NH 17 has been mired in controversy for quite some time. A villager's RTI application recently revealed that some villagers' houses were valued at a higher price too, apart from the 30 Tara villagers who have received far lesser compensation than what they should have received.

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