June 20 2004:Funding received from from RIC and Onaway Trust.
A meeting of network partners was organised in April 2004 to finalise
details of activities to be implemented over a short-term as well as a
long-term period. It was decided to work in the following Talukas: Karjat,
Khalapur, Sudhagad-Pali, Roha, Murbad and Shahpur
The first step was to do a systematic survey of all Katkari hamlets in the
six Talukas. A survey format was collectively developed and survey work was
The other step was to begin work on organising Katkaris. Informal visits,
discussions, meetings, cultural events, etc. are being organised by partners
in hamlets. In Sudhagad-Pali, the series of meetings gradually led to a big
meeting of 50 Katkari hamlets. The Katkari people at this meeting found this
to be a stimulating event. They felt that they could use to occasion to
revive their traditional "Nyaya Nivada Manch" (dispute redressal forum)
which had stopped functioning since the past 10-15 years. As a result, even
minor disputes amongst Katkaris were being settled in Police Stations, who
were using the opportunity to exploit all concerned. It was decided to
organise a meeting of all the 80-85 Katkari hamlets in Sudhagad-Pali Taluka
to finalise the Nyaya Nivada Manch. The Katkari elders requested the NGO
partner to suggest a structure and mechanism for the forum to operate in a
just and equitable manner. The modalities are being worked out.
Land issues of Katkaris are being given a priority in all the Talukas. ADS
took it up as a challenge and began follow up with government officials.
Meetings were also organised in Katkari hamlets and near brick units to
discuss land issues. The issue of Ceiling Land emerged as a priority given
the instances of encroachment by outsiders. ADS compiled details of the
Ceiling Land cases affecting Katkaris in Karjat Taluka and began approaching
government officials at various levels.
6 Volunteers were selected by ADS for a one-year training on land issues.
They were placed in different villages. Regular inputs are being given to
The ADS efforts yielded dividends much sooner than expected. The government
passed orders to sort out the six Ceiling Land cases in Katkari hamlets of
Karjat Taluka. The Land Survey Department was immediately ordered to begin
survey work in all the six hamlets. This is a major task and may take 1-2
years. The Land Survey Department began work but came up with a number of
excuses to delay and postpone the surveys. One of the main reasons was a
shortage of manpower. The ADS team of 8 members stepped in and volunteered
to assist the Survey team in putting things together at all the sites. The
concerned Katkari families were traced at various brick units and asked to
return to their villages immediately. Meetings were organised in the
villages. The survey work began in the first village. It took nearly one
month. The second survey was initiated and completed just at the onset of
monsoon. These two were relatively small and easier plots of land in terms
of lack of vegetation. So the survey work was much simpler. A preliminary
assessment was done on one of the large plots. There were a number of
difficulties. The monsoon began and it was hence decided to postpone the
survey work till November.
In any case, Katkari families in two villages were able to get legal
ownership of their land after a long, long period of over 30 years. Katkari
families in other villages are sure that their Ceiling Land cases will be
sorted out in a year or two. A major outcome of this success is the sudden
optimism amongst Katkaris in the entire region. They now feel that some
solution can be found for their problems and their sufferings.
During the past two months the entire ADS team was busy with the surveys of
Ceiling Lands in different villages. The other NGO partners are also busy
with a number of assignments. Details will be known once we have the next
reporting meeting during July-August.