Coffee @ MAGARPATTA.....
By: Arjun.R.Shankar & Devipriya P.G
In today’s scam hit scenario everything is perceived with a sense of apprehension and foreboding. Projects are verified and scrutinized by the Ministry of Environment and Forests with immense precision and with unfettered reasonableness. The many tough decisions and prompt actions are the testimony of this care for the environment. The LAVASSA, The Jaitapur project controversy and many more similar issues are popping up every day and are raising so much hue and cry against the forced land acquisitions for various developmental activities including SEZ and integrated townships within our country.
Development in this country is very often the synonym of corruption and injustice to many leaders and people of this country. At least some of them can be due to their excessive greed mongering appetite, for personal gains or due to certain political ideologies. People of this country have blocked and froze innumerable developmental projects due to apprehension and fear of injustice. Kerala is one of the finest examples of this trend which made it a least investor friendly state. Another important reason is that in many cases the land acquisitions for public purpose were ambiguous; the compensation offered were unjustifiably low; and the provisions lacked clarity, often requiring courts to intervene. In addition, the procedures laid down were cumbersome.
SEZ (Special Economic Zone) for some is a colossal and prodigious reflection of economic development and prosperity in real terms and a stupendous island of infrastructure, to some it’s an awful land grabbing exercise, farmer displacements and political protests. In an era of the so called LPG effects still there are so many obstacles in India’s course of development, it’s a naked truth that quite a few are genuine but we suspect there are few exaggerations too. For all those who believe it is the prerogative of an emerging economy like India to say a big emphatic no to all such initiatives let us now recollect a forgotten success story …
This is a classic example of an extraordinary initiative and dedication by the ordinary farmers which is hard to follow and digest in the present scenario. This city is the first city in India which is owned, built and managed entirely by the farmers. Magarpatta is a self contained residential cum industrial or corporate settlement spanning over 430 acres of land is situated along the Pune Solapur Highway in Maharashtra . It’s an integrated township with highly sophisticated international amenities; an award winning and internationally appreciated model of integrated development and self sustainability. A city within a city having a commercial zone, residential neighborhoods’ , school , hospital , shopping malls , hotels and restaurants and recreation places . All this is complemented by verdant greens and a pollution free ambience – a supreme setting for life and business. The modernity here is dazzling and the ambience of this city might take you by surprise.
These farmers became the poster boys of inclusive equitable community development. The region was dominated by the Magar clan. The Magar clan and their immediate neighbours comprising 123 families trace their ancestry back to three centuries, were basically illiterate farmers. The land they tilled has been under the Pune Municipal jurisdiction since 1960, and was an agricultural zone. But in 1982, the Pune Municipal Corporation marked it as a future ‘urbanisable zone’ in it’s draft development plan, which meant that the government could easily acquire the land under the ‘Urban Ceiling Act’, and the population of this city exceeded the target of 2020 in 1991 with a population of more than 2 million.
Though some farmers in the neighbourhood , lured by the quick buck had sold their land to real estate developers the majority were content with the steady income afforded by sugarcane harvests. Therefore they started protesting against the development plan which was definitely rational. But by late 1980’s they realized they were fighting a losing battle as they realized that the city was already bursting at the seams.
Then they thought about a joint venture where the farmers applied for conversion of the entire stretch into a non agricultural zone. Together they pooled the 400 acres of land, seeked the state administrations approval for an industrial township. They wholeheartedly trusted Satish Magar who was instrumental in establishing the twin industrial township of Pimpri-Chinchwad in 1960’s.He mooted the idea of a company rather than a cooperative so that each family got shares equal to the size of their land holding. The company was registered as ‘The Magarpatta Township Development and Construction Company Limited’ and Satish Magar became its MD.
Instead of hiring labourers from outside during the course of construction people who gave their land were given employment in the construction activities and other jobs within the township. Remember, they were simple illiterate farmers. Probably that was one of the finest example of how effectively the human resources could be used when the required skill was imparted to them in the right direction. This is a lesson to be imbibed in most of the land acquisitions - be it for SEZ or for similar township projects.
What we see in recent times is blind stiff resistance every time such initiatives are in their infancy stage. It is mainly because of the apprehension of the displaced people towards their future. We often tend to forget the fact that there are strict legal norms regarding the rehabilitation of the displaced, their employment, health, education of children etc. Hence it is the responsibility of the corporates involved and concerned governments to ensure that every aspect of such victims of land acquisitions is taken care off. They should be able to gain the confidence of the people regarding the people’s security and also about the sustainability and viability of such initiatives.
This is exactly what happened in the case of Magarpatta. For this there should be adequate scope for effective negotiations between the common people and corporates in which our politicians and bureaucrats should play the role of positive catalysts. Only then can we dream about the emerging super power India in par with the developed nations. It’s always possible provided we are guided by strong principles of sustainability and self sufficiency. Then certainly many more replicas of Magarpatta or even better ones will come up in our Indian soil. The activities and changes are dazzling and are commendable.
A transformation has been triggered, by men who never went to any business schools, who knew nothing about the real estate business, who had no capital. This ‘Transformation’ is lead by farmers of Indian soil who had nothing other than the farmland they owned.