Mira-Bhayandar: The land acquisition process for the proposed Dahisar-Bhayandar Link Road (DBLR) has once again brought to fore the contentious issue related to the ownership rights of sprawling salt pan lands in the rural belts of Bhayandar. Staking their claim on the ownership of such land parcels, local salt manufacturers under the aegis of the Mith Utpadak Chhote Shilotri Seva Sangh (MUCSSS), have sought the intervention of the central government authorities to resolve the issue and give justice to the rightful owners.
Staring at an uncertain future, the salt pan owners from across the state who are entangled in legal battles with the union government’s salt department in various courts for more than four decades, justice continues to remain a distant dream.
MUCSSS attempts to authenticate ownership rights
To authenticate their ownership rights, the MUCSSS has sourced out several documents and age-old records under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, including- a report submitted by the collector of Salsette in the year 1892 stating that the government had only two salt pans which were sold in the year 1810 and the subsequent report released in the year 1820 which confirmed that shilotris (people who manufacture salt) were the owners of the land, the Jamin Kharda (register of lands) which came into existence in the year 1859 bearing the name of the salt manufacturer as the land owner, the Jamin Kharda register which has every detail classifying the land as ‘private salt works’ is recognized to be a document as to title as well as the record of rights, license system was scrapped by the union government in 1996 and the abolition of in May-2016, under the salt cess act-1953, further cementing the title ship of shilotris.
Salt manufacturers are actual owners
“All these records are ample evidence to prove that the salt manufacturers are the actual owners of the land, howeve,r the salt department has never produced a single document on the virtue of which they can stakea claim,” says Advocate Bharat Khanna, legal advisor for the MUCSSS.
“We are not against developmental works but as we are owners and not lessees, as they refer us, the government should mediate to ensure adequate compensation as per the ready reckoner rate meant for industrial land use- a process which was followed during the land acquisition process during the construction of the Mumbai-Goa highway in 2013.” said Ashok Patil- who heads the MUCSSS.