Agriculture Land vanishing for Real Estate Development

DrChaturvediBy Dr Sanjay Chaturvedi, LLB, PhD

Poor rain falls and dry spells for last four years making farmer give away their land to builders and developers for real estate development. Another reason for change of land use from agriculture to non agricultre is small pockets after family partitions are useless for farming. Small farmers joining together, like for example Magarpatta City in Pune, and going in for township development. Rural Maharashtra have found solution to dry and drought in real estate.

Agriculture and forest are the two important heads in the land utilisation of the district and account roughly for nine lakh acres. The general topography of the district is such that it encourages cultivation and favours the growth of forest. As forest can be said to form only a part and parcel of agriculture, taken in a comprehensive term, the district reflects itself in a peculiar agricultural economy. The dependence of agricultural operations on forest resources for robbing and similar other purposes is a phenomenon known widely. In brief, forest is as important as cultivation in representing the wealth of the district.

Agents are active to convert agricultre land into industrial or residential zones. Even Adiwasi lands are not spared. Collectors and Revenue Department do not hesitate to convert No-Development Zones (ND) into lucurative real estate business. Forest lands and Private Forest lands are also converted into small bungalow schemes. In a acre, 1600 sq ft is aloowed to be constructed. Many such schemes have sprouted where one acre land is sold under agriculture society.

One of the biggest jolt came in Karjat and Shahayadri Range where it is declared as World Conservative Heritage Eco Sensitive Zone where nothing can be constructed. But there are always grey areas in implementation. We have almost 80% of such areas sold and / or developed into real estate projects.
Sudhagad, Alibag, Mangaon, Panvel, Mahad and Roha appear to have contributed substantially to the net area to be developed under real estate projects and in the district. Similarly, except Mhasla, Shriwardhan, Poladpur and Murud all the sub-divisions seem to share their land with developers in the total forest area. Roha, Poladpur and Sudhagad account for most of the area under current fallows. With the exception of Roha, Murud and Shriwardhan every sub-division appears to have not made a sizeable addition to cultivable and other waste land in the district. Kalyan and Dombivali area have seen almost 10,000 acres put to use as residential zone converted from agriculture land. The haphazared way of zonal classification and absence of Regional Plan since 2003 in MMR have given boost to unplanned residential zones.
Like other districts of Maharashtra, Kolaba is essentially a district of villages. There are altogether 1,788 inhabited places in the district of which 1,776 are villages and 12 municipal towns, 10.5 per cent of the population of the district living in the urban area and the remaining 89.5 per cent in the rural area. Of the towns three, i.e., Panvel (pop. 14,861), Srivardhan (pop. 10,299) and Mahad have each a population of more than ten lakhs since 2001; seven, i.e., Murud (pop. 9,744), Uran (pop. 8,672), Pen (pop. 8,607), Alibag (pop. 8,191), Roha (pop. 6,880), Ceul (pop. 6,751) and Revdanda (pop. 5,987) have each a population of more than five Lakhs since 2001; and two, i.e., Mhasla (pop. 2,971) and Matheran (pop. 2,808) which is a hill station, have reach a population below five lakhs since 2001. Of the villages,, except for Canaje in Uran Peta which had a population of 6,100, twenty-eight villages have each a population between 2,000-5,000, 121 between 1,000-2,000, 379 between 500-1,000 and 1,247 below 500, all have reached above one lakh.

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