The Tata Power’s proposed 1,600 MW project in Raigad, Maharashtra, hit a roadblock recently after the Supreme Court admitted a bunch of appeals by farmers against the proprietary of land acquisition and compliance with environmental norms. A Bench led by Justice R M Lodha issued notices to Tata Power and Maharashtra government, among others, and sought their replies to the special leave petition in eight weeks.
Mukul Rohatgi, senior advocate appearing for Tata, opposed reopening of the issue as the Bombay High Court has granted a go ahead to the firm with certain riders. The counsel relied on the firm’s affidavit, containing data on consent awards and list of khatedars (private owners/ occupants).
However, senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for farmers, said that the company never handed over the records of consent awards to them when the proceedings were on before the HC and the number of khatedars was understated. “Petitioner obtained, through the use of the RTI, the list of 2,552 khatedars whose land fell within the zone of acquisition... the list of khatedars has been understated by 420 khatedars since Tata has claimed there were 2,131 khatedars,” he said.
The counsel the list of those who were paid compensation by Tata revealed those who are not khatedars were shown as ones and paid accordingly because the genuine ones were opposed to the acquisition. “The company has shown lands acquired through private negotiations even in those cases where only part payments have been made and in some cases it appears these part payments are nominal sums of money,” the farmers’ affidavit read and added that private negotiations by firms with khatedars and subsequent sale of land to companies requires scrutiny by the court.