On November 6, we had a meeting with the FC administration on the matter, but now they are asking the tribals to go to court and get a stay.
Mumbai: In a bid to save their farmlands, the Habalepada tribals residing in Film City, Goregaon, have staked claim to around 200 acres of land under the Community Forest Rights Act, 2006.
The Habalepada tribal community, comprising nearly 70 families, has resorted to FRA claims stating that debris from film shoots is being dumped in their decades’ old farmlands and that Film City has refused to take any action to thwart the destruction. On their part, Film City officials have claimed that they ensure that debris from shoots is removed and that action is taken against errant producers.
Earlier in September, around 45 individuals filed their FRA claims on the land after their farmlands were buried upto three feet from the concrete and POP debris. Tribals stated that there are 65 shooting locations at the area.
Dinesh Habale, a tribal from Habalepada said, “In December, all 70 families residing in Habalepada filed claims as a community under FRA after we were told by Film City officials that they will not take action against the dumping of debris. We have been living here since generations and have allowed them to use the plots for shoots but now when our farmlands are getting destroyed, they are turning their backs.”
The Film City (FC) claims that the plot is a government land allotted to them, tribals stated that their earlier generations have been cultivating crops at the site even before Film City emerged.
Another tribal, Krishna Habale, said, “We cultivate crops like rice and wheat that are destroyed due to debris from shoots. Vegetables like cucumbers and bottle gourd are also cultivated here. Instead of working towards resolving our concerns, Film City has brought JCBs on site to destroy our lands.”
Amrita Bhattacharya, an activist who complained to the Aarey Colony police station about the matter, said that under FRA, tribals can stake claim to land that fulfills the definition of a forest and is the place where they have been living since 2005.
“On November 6, we had a meeting with the FC administration on the matter, but now they are asking the tribals to go to court and get a stay. Debris is being dumped even near the main gate of Film City like other sites,” she said.
Meanwhile, Chandrakant Kolekar, deputy engineer, Film City, refuted claims of illegal dumping and said, “We have always ensured that the sets are removed after the shoots and that producers take away the debris with them. Even we take the responsibility to remove debris or remnants on sets so as to not inconvenience the tribals. We will inspect the site.”