Posted On Sunday, June 10, 2012 at 08:07:05 AM
Demolition of homes and privately owned commercial establishments, for the larger good of citizens and administration, are known to throw up familiar images of tussle and heartburn. In a rare case however, work towards a road-widening project in Dehu village gained momentum when villagers pooled in their efforts in mowing down significant portions of their properties.
• The road in front of the Tukaram temple in Dehu village is being widened (R); the village thoroughfare is lined with partially demolished properties
This was in response to the administration’s plan to facilitate easy movement to places of pilgrimage in Alandi and Pandharpur.
The government of Maharashtra has a 500-crore development plan for places of pilgrimage. About half of the tenders for the work have been issued, but it could not take off due to non-availability of land.
The road widening plan at Dehu was at a standstill for over 20 years, with negotiations between the district authorities and villagers on for the last four months.
Recently the district administration’s jinx was broken when villagers volunteered to give up their own land — they softened their earlier tough stand after many meetings with the district collector.
Their opposition to give up their land melted away when they were assured suitable compensation. Three hundred and twenty-five properties have been sliced up for a larger good.
Haveli tehsildar Sandesh Shirke said, “Approximately Rs 8 crore has been disbursed among 325 families for the purpose.”
The annual Palkhi procession, in reverence to Sant Tukaram, will originate at Dehu on Monday. It will give around 10 lakh pilgrims ample space to navigate their way to Pandharpur. “A majority of the villagers started demolishing their properties on their own.
The administration stepped in only when their help was sought. With the monsoon on its way we could not delay this any further. If demolition was to be stalled we’d have to wait for another four months before we could get started on the project,” said Shirke.
Pralhad Murlidhar More, one of the property owners who lost seven gunthas to the acquisition said, “The villagers of Dehu follow the teachings of Tukaram Maharaj.
|Villagers of Dehu volunteered to demolish their properties to make way for pilgrims
He teaches us the value of sacrifice. It was our duty to preserve the name and sanctity of our village. Due to our positive attitude towards the cause, pilgrims across Maharashtra will know the manner in which we came forward to givu up our properties.”
The trustees of Dehu Gaon Mosque, which came in the way, have also handed over a small portion of the land for road widening. “We convinced the community leaders to see the larger good.
An officer met Farukh Mulani, a member of the gram panchyat and a trustee of the mosque, who subsequently conducted a meeting with the elders of the community on the matter. They decided to take a positive approach.” Earlier, the administration had also demolished two temples — a Datta Mandir and a Sai temple — on the riverside road near Vaikunthgaman temple.
The plan now is to construct new tar and concrete roads and widen the existing narrow ones and congested chowks in the area. New buildings will be constructed for pilgrims’ accommodation, apart from hostels and inns.
To avoid overcrowding, mechanised parking lots will be constructed to accommodate four-wheelers and heavy vehicles entering the pilgrim sites. Ten circle officers are deployed in Dehu to carry out the task of compensating the villagers.
Ramesh Bhagwan Dhamdhere, a shop owner close to Sant Tukaram temple, said, “I have been running this shop for the last 40 years. The administration convinced us that the road widening is in the larger interest of villagers as well as devotees. The development will surely upgrade the image of our village. Also, we are guaranteed sizable compensations on the spot, which is rare in the government machinery.”
► The administration convinced us that the road widening is in the larger interest of the villagers as well as devotees who visit Dehu village
- Ramesh Dhamdhere, Village Shopkeeper
► Approximately Rs 8 crore has been disbursed among 325 families for the purpose
- Sandesh Shirke, Haveli Tehsildar