Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Gujarat govt imposes prohibitory orders in Ahmedabad rural to "preempt" farmers' padyatra against Dholera smart city

Replica of Dholera smart city
By Our Representative
Gujarat government is learnt to have imposed prohibitory orders across the entire Ahmedabad district, except for Ahmedabad city. The decision to impose Section 144 in the district’s rural areas comes close on the heels of the “permission” sought by an upcoming farmers’ organization, Khedut Samaj – Gujarat (KSG), to hold padyatra against the proposed Smart City in Dholera Special Investment Region (SIR), 90 km south of Ahmedabad, along the Gulf of Khambhat.
The permission sought for padyatra – or footmarch – was for starting the agitation from village Bavaliyari on October 28, and ending it on November 3 at the district collector’s office in Ahmedabad city. It was to pass through all the 22 villages, which are part of the Dholera SIR, spread over 900 sq km. The written plea seeking permission for the padyatra said, only 100 farmers would participate.
According to sources, the order to impose Section 144 says, the additional district magistrate has “imposed a ban on gathering of more than four persons or holding any rally or meeting on all roads, footpaths, streets and bylanes in the entire district, with the exception of the area falling under the jurisdiction of the Ahmedabad municipal commissioner.”
While the KSG sought the permission for the padyatra programme on October 14, the sources added, the decision to impose prohibitory orders was taken, with the consent of the very top in Gujarat government, two days later – on October 16.
The decision for taking out the padyatra was taken following flutter among the farmers of Dholera SIR after Gujarat government declared it would hand over “hand over” 28,503 hectares (ha) of land of the region to the special purpose vehicle (SPV) formed for developing Smart City in Dholera SIR – Dholera Special Investment Region Development Authority (DSIRDA).
Farmers fear they would lose half of their land, that too at a very cheap rate, about Rs 600 per sq metre. While the Government of India has dropped the amendments to the Land Acquisition Act (LAA), 2013, sources say, the Gujarat government wants to “bypass” LAA by imposing the town planning Act, which requires farmers to hand over 50 per cent of land for a designated urban area in the name of urbanization.
Sagar Rabari of KSG, one of the senior farmer leaders, told Counterview, he personally went to the district collector’s office in Ahmedabad to get a copy of the prohibitory order, but was “refused”. He added, “The Gujarat Samachar newspaper’s Bhavnagar edition has reported government move, yet, the officials do not want to give it to us.”
Meanwhile, the Ahmedabad (rural) police has summoned another KSG leader, Bharatsinh Jhala, to Dholera SIR region for recording his statement about his “intention” to take out the padyatra. “Jhala, in whose name the permission was sought, has gone to Dholera for what now will remain a formality, as the padyatra has been banned”, said Rabari.
Alleging that while permission is easily given to “dominant caste” agitators, such as Patels, Rabari said, “When vulnerable communities (Dalits, Adivasis, Other Backward Castes) decide to protest for their genuine demands, such as refusal to be party to any forcible land acquisition, they are just refused permission.”
“This is not for the first time that permission for an agitation has not been granted in Ahmedabad”, Sabari said, adding, “On January 11, the farmers wanted to agitate against the Vibrant Gujarat business summit about 10 kilometres away, yet we were not granted permission. In fact, all agitation leaders, including myself, were detained. There is a constant prohibitory order in entire Ahmedabad district. I am filing a right to information (RTI) to give me copies of all the notification filed for Ahmedabad (rural) imposing ban on agitations since January 1, 2013.”

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