The sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) of Vadodara rural area, J N Vaghela, ordered initiating process of confiscating the land on March 31, 2012, after finding that the beneficiaries had not paid a nominal fee to claim possession of the land awarded to them by the state government.
According to the order, the government had allotted the land to the 31 landless residents of Jaspur in August 1987 as means of sustenance. This was a New Tenure land, which could be used for agricultural purposes only. It could also not be sold.
In order to claim the possession of the land, the beneficiaries were to pay the government a nominal fee in 10 annual installments starting 1993.
However, while checking records in 2008, the SDM office found farmers had not paid the fee till date. The SDM issued notices to the beneficiaries.
During the hearing of the case, the beneficiaries submitted they had deposited the fee with the government treasury but could not produce any evidence. Later, they submitted that the receipts of the fee and other records had been washed away in flood.
“During a checking, it was found that the said land was uneven and bushes have grown on it and it lay uncultivated. ...When the land seems inarable, there is no reason to believe somebody might have taken possession of it,” the order notes.
The beneficiaries had the right to challenge the SDM’s order before collector within 60 days but they did not do so.
The confiscation proceedings were initiated under Section 79 of Bombay Land Revenue Codes.
“Not paying the possession fee in itself is sufficient ground for proceedings under Section Section 79. But we have also found that agricultural activity is not being carried out on the said land,” Vadodara district collector Vinod Rao said Friday.
Without taking names, the collector alleged that a certain person (city-based builder Sanjiv alias Sanju Bharmabe) whose name has cropped up in land disputes recently had some stake in the land. However, he clarified his name figured nowhere in revenue records of the land in question.
SDM Vaghela also alleged he had received threats after he passed the order.
Incidentally, the collector had annulled Bharambe’s status as an agriculturalist that he had acquired though will of a farmer and ordered confiscation of several acres of land in Jaspur that was in his possession.