Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Jaws - 3

So, how much land does a man need? It brings to mind the story that was in my school book (many,many years ago for sure) – the story by Leo Tolstoy – How much land does a man need? A story which has remained etched in my mind.

In brief, Pahom a peasant is deep into debts. Some time later, he comes in possession of a small piece of land, and is able to pay off his debts and lead a comfortable life. But as is human nature, he gets greedy for more, stating "if I had plenty of land, I shouldn't fear the Devil himself!" In his quest for more land he is given a strange offer, where for a thousand roubles he can get as much land as he can cover in a day. The condition being, he marks his route as he sets out, but he has to return to the starting point by sunset. In his greed he covers a very large area, and when he realises the sun is setting, he has to run back. The crowd that has gathered cheers him on, and he finally manages to complete his task, but collapses as he does so. The crowd digs a grave for him of six feet in length. Six feet, ironically is how the story ends and is the answer to the question of how much land does a man need!

Morbid, but food for thought.
It is not that man does not have a need for property. He does. A roof over one’s head is definitely what one should strive for. But how?

We had the worst flood in recent history, and it was not just nature’s fury that was to blame. If it were not for land encroachments and indifference of officials some precious lives may have been saved, loss of property minimised.

Land sharks, it appears, has the backing of the underworld, the politicians, the MNCs.

In their greed, land meant for agriculture has been bought at throwaway prices for commercial purposes. Lake beds have been gobbled up . The dead are not spared either. Burial grounds that were probably on the outskirts when they were first earmarked for the purpose, are now large centrally located spaces , attracting the attention of unscrupulous elements. .

Illegal constructions come up or deviations from the original plan made with the connivance of the powers that be. Instead of punishing the errant builders, the government in AP has ordered those who have moved into these buildings to get the plan regularised for a fee. Thus penalising the innocent, and allowing the wrongdoers to go scot free.

Land grab occurs in the name of God too. Places of worship sprout overnight. These are novel methods by which public land is being seized . Some of them right in the middle of the road causing traffic snarls .

The statistics are startling. No single community can be blamed. The 2001 Census of India threw up numbers that are mind boggling. There were 2.4 million places of worship in the country (exceeding the number of schools, at 2.1 million) and most of them unauthorised. And therefore the Supreme Court’s interim order banning the construction of any temple, church, gurudwara, or mosque on any roadside or other public space comes as a relief. As the editorial in The Hindu states, banning fresh construction is the easy part, The real challenge is to deal with existing illegal places of worship, the number is anyone’s guess. Religion being a sensitive issue, it remains to be seen how the respective states act upon this order.

Jaws 3 seems more frightening than the prequel.


  1. Damn true maam. Every word of it. Actually the main reason for all these floods are, raising the sri sailam dam more than the required level for providng water for a steel plant belong to the ysr family..I think its bharathi not sure...and all those backwaters which submerged kurnool is ONLY because of the water which came back because of these levels in Srisailam :(

  2. What you have written is so true.

    Real estate price rise ensures that the builders and politicians bend/ break the rules wherever possible. The results are there for us to see. Innocent people suffer.

    Land-grabbng for unauthorised places of worship is common, too- as you have mentioned. And of course, difficult to deal with, being a sensitive issue!

  3. So true..In the land everybody is mafia..In Hyderabad govt has sanctioned all the plans of builders, never even bothering whether they are according to the rules, with the result that at some places multistorey building are up choc.a block not having a wide road even, look like tunnels and will be a safety hazard in case of a calamity. At some places builders bought 2 plots adjacently and consumed the road between them.

  4. Building temples on roadside, is so common,here in Chennai. The autostand drivers, just keep a small Ganesha statue with a thatched roof first, then slowly collect money from the houses nearby to expand it.The whole platform is blocked by the temple.

    When I went to Nellaiappar temple in Thirunelveli, a few years back, the idols were without flowers and the poojari said that they don't buy much flowers to cover all all the idols. Cash shortage! This is such an old famous temple. Without maintaining the old temples with good architecture, which reminds us of our ancient prosperity, new temples are popping up everywhere. Will the government have the guts to stop building new temples?

    The Tolstoy story, says everything. All the points you have written about land-grabbing is very true. They are not leaving the beach fronts also.

    Very interesting post, Radha!


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