Friday, January 29, 2016

Gujarat govt authority letter "denying" Narmada water for irrigation to smart city area: Farmers protest move

DSIR farmers protest against "refusal" to provide Narmada waters
By Our Representative
Gujarat farmers of the Dholera Special Investment Region (DSIR), a proposed Greenfield smart city towards the south of Ahmedabad, have strongly protested against the DSIR Authority, which has asked the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL) to withdraw Narmada waters for agriculture to DSIR’s 28,203 hectares (ha) area.
After taking out a rally in the DSIR area under the banner of Bhal Bachao Samiti and Gujarat Khedut Samaj, the farmers’ representatives of 22 villages, which are to be affected, represented before the DSIR Authority to “withdraw” the letter it has written to SSNNL for decommanding the Narmada command area or face more protests across the region.
The DSIR Authority is a Gujarat government body, responsible for developing infrastructure for the proposed world-class smart city, which is declared to be meant for elite sections of society to live and do business. It is not known whether the SSNNL, which is responsible for the Narmada project, has accepted the proposal to decommand or rejected it.
In a statement, leaders of the protesting farmers – Bhagirathsinh Chudasma, Pradyumnasinh Chudasma, Jagabhai Sodhi, Ramdevsinh Chudasma, all belonging to the Bhal Bachao Andolan, and Sagar Rabari of the Gujarat Khedut Samaj – say that SSNNL should not go ahead with “decommanding” the 28,203 ha area.
“The SSNNL should immediately begin constructing Narmada canal distributaries, minor and sub-minor channels, as envisaged originally, on the entire 28,203 ha area, so that farmers are able to get Narmada waters. The work should begin within a fortnight’s time, lest our protests would begin”, the statement said.
Qualifying the “decision” to decommand the DSIR area as Gujarat government conspiracy to please the industrialists, the statement said, “Plans are being worked out to provide water to the industries, which would be set up in DSIR. Despite its assurances not to decommand the DSIR area, it has been dilly-dallying in the matter”, the statement said, adding, “The farmers are angry. They will not tolerate this betrayal any longer.”
Threatening to begin indefinite relay fast if the work for constructing Narmada canal network does not start, the statement said, “Already, farmers of other areas of Gujarat have declared support to DSIR farmers. They will join us.”
The Gujarat government has already handed over the 28,203 ha area of the DSIR for beginning the construction of urban infrastructure in the region. Under the town planning law, the farmers have been issued notices, that their 50 per cent of agricultural land would be taken away for developing urban facilities for the proposed smart city.
Notably, the Gujarat government wants to go ahead the smart city in the Dholera region despite the fact that the area is known to be flood prone, and would require massive reclamation at huge costs, something about which Dholera SIR’s feasibility report speaks about in some detail. 
A detailed flood study is learnt to have been done out for the region, though it is not known whether it is being implemented.

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