Has Agri Koli Bhavan become the new symbol of corruption at CIDCO and injustice to PAPs

The Agri Koli Bhavan is the first CIDCO project that was started with the promise to celebrate and nurture the history, tradition, customs, culture and heritage of the Agri Koli community of Navi Mumbai. One of the most ambitious projects of CIDCO was eagerly awaited by the city. However to the utter disappointment of Agri Koli community, the Agri Koli Bhavan too seems to have become a victim of corruption at CIDCO. On NMTV Weekend Exclusive Dy. Editor Sana Warsia tell us this and how with the Agri Koli Bhavan, injustice to PAPs continues.

In Navi Mumbai lie the roots of the one of the oldest communities of India – known as the Agri Koli community. The origin of Agri Samaj is farming and Koli Samaj is fishing. This is a culture of hardworking people; people who love the nature. All men and women work together for their homes, fields, sea and salt production. While Navi Mumbai rose to become an epitome of class urban planning, the rapid development took a toll on the rich heritage and culture of the Agri Koli community.

After three decades, courtesy CIDCO, the richness and glory of the Agri Koli community is erasing; reducing the Agris and Kolis to a category of people that the nation identifies with as being PAPs – Project Affected People. It is in this background, that CIDCO announced one of its most ambitious projects – the Agri Koli Bhavan. When the former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan arrived in Navi Mumbai to lay the foundation stone, many pinned hopes on CIDCO again; thinking that now the heritage of the Agri Koli community would get a new lease of life. Unfortunately, this turned out to be too wishful thinking. The first sign of CIDCO’s tall claims of their project being false went bust when Minister of State Urban Development Bhaskar Jadhav visited the site during in January 2011. He did not hide his disappointment and openly voiced his criticism for the kind of construction work being done by CIDCO at the Agri Koli Bhavan stating that the construction work of the bhavan was inferior.

However, instead of mending their mistakes, CIDCO as always, turned a deaf year. The allegation rung true a couple of days back, when the Dy. Chief Minister Ajit Pawar exposed the pathetic, sub standards and down-market work done by the CIDCO contractor in building the Agri Koli Bhavan. The Minister’s outburst put to shame the CIDCO Board of Directors and officials of CIDCO who are always under the scanner for corruption and scams. We once again bring to you the blunt remarks of the Dy. Chief Minister after seeing Agri Koli Bhavan. The Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar’s said that the parking facility provided in the Bhavan was insufficient.

Ajit Pawar also criticized the space capacity of the auditorium. Hinting at corruption, he said that Crores was spent on making it but it did not reflect in the quality of work. What could be more shameful for a community known for its rich customs and traditions than CIDCO using black granite for the staircase, which is considered to be a bad omen. The Dy. Chief Minister did not hesitate of even addressing the topic of corruption advising the board to work with transparency else, another committee would have to be set up for enquiring into tenders being passed in the absence of a Managing Director.

Not just the Dy. Chief Minister of Maharashtra but even the members of the Agri Koli community are upset with CIDCO’s Agri Koli Bhavan. The Upsarpanch of Grampanchayat in Kharghar, Sanjay Gharat says that they were disappointed that during the inaugural ceremony, there was no representation of the community. Veteran leaders of the community like Diva Patil were not present. The Agri Koli community, say that the bhavan has no features that celebrate the Agri Koli culture, customs or traditions.

Clearly, with the Agri Koli Bhavan, corruption in CIDCO has been exposed again and injustice continues to be done to this community. These sentiments are of members of the Agri Koli community, who voiced frustration over CIDCO draining Crores in the name of an Agri Koli Bhavan, when the community does not even have basic necessities in their villages. One member also hit out at the so-called PAPs leader in CIDCO.

CIDCO could not do justice to 12.5% scheme or give employment to PAPs. Now even with the much-hyped Agri Koli Bhavan, they continued to play with the emotions of the PAPs. Far from doing justice to the rich heritage and culture of the Agri Koli community, the Agri Koli Bhavan today stands as a symbol of shame and corruption plaguing CIDCO. With Monika Bhosale, Sana Warsia for NMTV News.


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