Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, who hails from Karad in Satara district, is keen that the airstrip at Karad be upgraded to a full-fledged airport.
But extending the narrow and short airstrip will mean taking over lands of the surrounding farms. The farmers are up in arms, fearing for their livelihood.
The farmers said the land surrounding the airport is multi-crop, irrigated land, and therefore, cannot be taken over as per government rules. “Five villages – Varunj, Kese, Mundhe, Padhali, and Gote – will be affected by the state’s plans to extend the 1,250 metres airstrip by another 1,500m and widen it by 150m,” said Dr Bharat Patankar, an activist.
Patankar and representatives of the villages called on the CM on Saturday and apprised him of the situation.
The group claimed that the government representatives had sent the villagers a notice for joint measurement, the first step in acquiring land for public projects.
“The irony is that the state representatives don’t know that rules forbid acquiring irrigated and multi-crop land. When we told the CM this, he was surprised and said he had been told that no village would be affected,” said Patankar.
The villagers said the officials are ignoring fallow land 40 km from Karad, which can be used for the airport. “Villagers between Koregaon and Pusegaon have offered their land, which is not irrigated . Why can’t the state acquire that fallow land?” asked Patankar.
The CM has promised to look into the matter and hold another meeting soon.