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Fresh hope for Olive Garden landlosers

After the parliamentary elections, people tore down the fence and are now farming there forcefully.
KOLKATA, 27 MARCH: Mr Noor Ali Mollah woke up one day to find his 10-bigha plot of land in Genragari mouza, in Rajarhat, fenced off, and to be told by goons to leave. The goons told him that the land does not belong to him anymore and that if he came back he would be killed.
Mr Ali left perforce, and soon lost his mental balance and now roams near the Olive Garden premises mumbling of vegetable and rice harvests. Two of the sale deeds of Mr Ali’s land (copies of the deeds are with The Statesman) have his fake signature and one of it has his name as Noor Ali Mondal.
After former Rajya Sabha MP Mrs Sarala Maheshwari’s son-in-law, Amitav Kejriwal, was arrested for taking over land by forging documents, several other landlosers in Genragari mouza have become hopeful they will get their land back. After the arrest, police had said a number of cases of land speculation and forgery were pending against the accused who was one the directors of a company ~ Canopy Infrastructure Private Limited ~ whose chairman is Mr Arun Maheshwari, husband of Mrs Sarala Maheshwari.
Canopy Infrastructure Private Limited started in 2004 with only one acre of land but over the years the firm got hold of 300 acres of land, it is alleged, by either intimidating landowners or forging documents.
The land grabbed by a conglomeration of 22 firms under the broad umbrella of Canopy Infrastructure is being used to set up a resort called Olive Gardens, on the lines of Vedic Village.
Most of the land acquired for the proposed resort was fertile agricultural land that the farmers had to part with unwillingly; some of it was khas (vested) land.
Like Noor Ali Mollah, Mohidul Fakir lost four bighas of land, Mrityunjaya Ghosh lost 16 bighas, Manash Ghosh lost 20 bighas, Prashanta and Satya Ghosh lost 60 bighas of land. The landlosers claimed that it was the CPI-M local committee member, Mr Baksho Ali Mollah, and his son Allaunddin who threatened the locals and took away their land.
Mr Manoranjan Ghosh, who lost 15 bighas of land complained in the police station 11 times but it was of no use. Mr Sankar Ghosh, another landloser, wrote to the chief minister four times and did not get any reply.
“They dug up our land, cut the bamboo groves and all the trees in the dead of night. When we asked them why they did that, they said the land has been sold off and that whoever raises their voice would be killed,” said Mr Fakir. More than 170 mango trees, seven other varieties of trees, 80 rain trees, 50-60 coconut trees on the land so acquired were also axed. When some of the farmers uprooted the fence around their land, police charged them in false cases, he added.
Mr Anwar Hossain, another landloser, said: “We requested them to at least spare the 200-year old graveyard. But they did not even respect the dead.”
Mr Nilotpal Dutta, secretary of Rajarhat Jami Bacchao Committee, said: “Genragari mouza falls under Bhangar Rajarhat Area Development Authority (BRADA) and the chairman and CPI-M MLA Rabin Mondal, arranges land for the corporates. Mr Ashok Naskar, the panchayat pradhan and Trinamul Congress member, was informed of the land scam. But he still gave a green signal to the Olive Garden plan. After the parliamentary elections, people tore down the fence and are now farming there forcefully.”
But CPI-M and Trinamul Congress goons whose only concern is money continue to threaten the farmers, he added.

Soma Basu

Soma Basu

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