Mumbai: NCP chief and former union defence minister Sharad Pawar on Friday met the Defence Minister Rajnath Singh apprised him of the difficulties faced by 23 villages in Ahmednagar district due to the expansion of the Army's KK Range exercise project. Pawar, who was accompanied by NCP legislator Nilesh Lanke, brought to Singh’s notice that the shooting range expansion will heavily impact the farmers, the local population and it will discourage new investments.
Pawar further said that the majority of the population in these villages is tribal. They make a living by working hard. The process of allotment of forest land to these tribals has been going on for some time. However, the allotment was being denied to them, citing the expansion of the KK Range exercise project. Locals are also being denied loans by nationalized banks and other financial institutions for this reason.
According to Pawar, due to the shooting range, other major projects could not take place there and the source of income for the tribal people was being destroyed.
He also cited problems in the relocation of the villagers as they are engaged in the cultivation of pomegranate and sugarcane and nearly one lakh hectare of land is heavily dependent on the irrigated water from the nearby dam.
Pawar also informed Singh that the firing has created panic among the local population.
Lanke said the Defence Minister, who was accompanied by CDS Bipin Rawat, has assured to look into the issues raised by Pawar and take locals into consideration before making any progress on the expansion of KK shooting range.