Even as the rescuers are braving hostile weather and difficult terrain for the third day to look for signs of life under the mound of debris at Malin village in Pune, Suresh Talekar, a Pune-based activist has charged the agriculture department officials of culpable homicide, and has filed a complaint at the Ghodegaon police station.
Talekar has asked to file cases against the officials for the deaths of 66 persons in his complaint.
Talekar, who works mainly in Ghodegaon, said that the Padkai cultivation scheme, on the lines of zoom cultivation in north east India, has proved detrimental to the terrain of Ambegaon taluka, in which the Malin village falls.
“For the last eight months, I approached every official from block level to the chief secretary level warning against the scheme. Because of this scheme, the soil on the hills has eroded, resulting in the decrease in the holding capacity of the hills. There have been umpteen cases of landslides, but the officials of the agriculture department just went ahead because of their nexus with the beneficiaries of this scheme,” he alleged.
Maharashtra Legislative Assembly speaker and the local MLA Dilip Walse Patil refuted the charges and said that the incident is being politicised. He said, “The Padkai scheme is a blessing for the farmers in this region. This is not a time to indulge in a blame game. This is a natural tragedy.”
“Most importantly, the Padkai scheme was never implemented in Malin. There has been no playing with the nature. This area receives 3,000 mm rainfall annually. No machines are used to dig up the hills and there is no permission as such,” claimed Patil.