The ongoing PNB scam involving Nirav Modi took an agrarian twist after farmers in Ahmednagar’s Khandala Village staged a protest to show ownership of the land acquired by the diamantaire. They alleged that Modi cheated them by acquiring the land by paying less than prevailing market rates.
Villagers, under the aegies of Kali Aai Mukti Sangram, symbolically farmed the 125 acre plot acquired by Nirav Modi promoted Firestone Company in 2012. The plot and a 2.5 MW solar power plant have already been seized by the Enforcement Directorate.
“The land was acquired by Modi from 55 farmers and agents,” said Kali Aai Mukti Sangram convener, advocate Karbhari Gawali, “by paying Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 per acre, against the Rs 10 lakh to Rs 20 lakh per acre prevalent at the time. Today’s protest was to show our ownership of the land. We have already made a representation to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Ahmednagar district collector Abhay Mahajan conveying that farmers will continue to own the land and will undertake sowing from June.”
He also alleged that the actual land acquired by Modi, through his company and agents, was almost 250 acres.
Gawali added although ED had sealed the solar power plant spread over 10 acres, power generation continues unabated. ‘”We have demanded that Firestone pay a royalty of Rs 10,000 per acre, per annum,” he said.
The Karjat Taluka Congress Committee chief Kiran Patil, who also took part in the protest, said that Modi was given crores by the bank but farmers were not given more than Rs 10,000. Therefore, the ‘Bhoomi Aandolan’ was launched to reiterate ownership.