Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Gram Panchayat razes soldier’s house in Shirur


11 January 2017

PUNE: A controversy has erupted after the Gram Panchayat of Mandavgan Farata village — located in Shirur taluka of Pune district, which had granted a small piece of land to a serving soldier of the Indian Army in 2014 to build a house, razed the ‘half-built’ house, stating that it was carrying out an ‘anti-encroachment’ drive.

Besides the soldier’s house, there was only one other house 100 metres away, which was razed by the Gram Pnachayat.  District Collector Saurabh Rao has summoned both block development officer and ZP CEO to seek clarity on the matter. The house was razed on December 28, when the Gram Panchayat claimed to have been conducting an anti-encroachment drive but targeted only these two houses. The house of Lance Naik Balu Chaugule (25), who is currently serving with 4 Brigade of Guards (1st Rajput) and is posted in Jaisalmer, was half built. Chaugule’s parents work as farmer workers and also has two brothers.

The family has been living in a rented house in the village. Chaugule joined the Army seven years ago and in 2014, he moved an application to the Gram Panchayat that the family be granted a small piece of land. The Gram Panchayat granted a small 33 ft by 33 ft in the last week of January 2014, but also said that the family will have to take the permission from the Panchayat Samiti of Shirur in order to start construction.

Chaugule’s brother Amol said, “In spite of my brother filing an application to the Panchayat Samiti, no permission was granted. Meanwhile, we got a loan and also had money so we could start the construction. But because, we did not have permission, we asked the Panchayat members if construction could be started, they said we could. So we started constructing the walls three months ago. Later, some members of the Panchayat changed their political party. On December 28, we saw such a drive being carried out.”

Amol added, “It is ironical that soldier Saurabh Farate, who was killed in a terror attack in Pampore, is from the same village. The same village has given this treatment to another soldier’s family because of politics.”

When contacted, village Sarpanch Suvarna Farate said, “This is not about politics but about following the rules. The construction has been demolished because the required permissions were not there. The fact that they did not have the permission from the Panchayat Samiti is their concern.”

District Collector Saurabh Rao said that he will first seek clarity on the matter and then take suitable action. “Without going into the legalities, I will first try to find out the exact reason for demolition of the soldier’s house and then initiate necessary action,” he said.

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