Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Farmers to protest Gujarat government move to "hand over" 28,000 ha for proposed Dholera Smart City

Farmers of Dholera SIR region
By Our Representative
Opposition to the Gujarat government decision to “hand over” 28,503 hectares (ha) of land to the special purpose vehicle (SPV) formed by it – Dholera Special Investment Region Development Authority (DSIRDA) – for developing Smart City in the Dholera Special Investment Region (SIR) is all set to raise its head.
Plans have been worked out to begin a padyatra protest over several days across the Dholera SIR, which is situated about 90 kilometres south of Ahmedabad, along the Gulf of Khambhat.
A statement issued by the Bhal Bachao Andolan, which operates under the umbrella of the land rights movement, Jameen Adhikar Andolan Gujarat (JAAG), which is leading the protest, says that the villagers have decided to “call on the Ahmedabad district collector to press for their demand” not to hand over the land to the SPV.
“The people of the 22 villages comprising the proposed Dholera SIR are angry at the games that the Gujarat government is playing with them”, says JAAG, adding, “The people are very angry that the government has, without any consultation with the villagers, taken a decision to sell 28,000 ha of land at Rs. 600 per sq metres rate to SVP for infrastructure development.”
Significantly, the move follows farmers in the Dholera region getting notices to hand over 50 per cent of land in the name of infrastructure, citing the town planning law, to be applied in the Dholera SIR region.
“The other serious issue is of decommanding of the earlier recommanded area from the Narmada Irrigation Project”, the statement points out, adding, the consultations should be held after the formation of “land kacheris.”
“In order to press with their demands for recommanding the decommanded zone, and holding ‘land kacheris’, the people of DSIR area have decided to take out a padyatra (foot march) from village Bavaliary.
The padyatra, to be held over a period of six days, will pass through Sandhida, Dholera and Ambali on the first day; Pipli and Moti Boru villages on the second day; Varana, Vataman, Ganol and Simej on the third day; Ambareli, Dholka, Chaloda and Badarkha on the fourth day; Bhat, Visalpur, and Sarkhej on the fifth day; and it would conclude on the fourth day, reaching the collector's office, Ahmedabad via Ashtram Road.
“The padyatra will end on November 3, 2015 when a memorandum will be submitted to clear farmers' land titles and promulgate land records”, the statement says.
The decision to hand over 28,503 ha of land to the DSIRDA was announced following a Cabinet meeting in September-end, where the Gujarat government claimed, the land that would be handed over belongs to the state.
"Gujarat government has now become the largest stake- holder in the company. As we are giving our land at Rs 600 per sq meter, state government's stake stands at 51 per cent," said Cabinet minister Nitin Patel announced following the Cabinet meeting.
Though Patel refused to divulge details, an official is said to have told reporters that 28,500 ha of land would be handed over at the coast of Rs 17,000 crore.
Dholera SIR, spread over 920 sq km, is proposed to be developed as one of the key business destinations to be developed under the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC).
So far, investors have refused to come and buy up any land, despite efforts by the Gujarat government through Vibrant Gujarat business summits.

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