Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Farmers off Ahmedabad to protest on June 8 against 625 sq km "snatched away" in the name of urban infrastructure

Sabar Rabari leading a farmers' rally off Ahmedabad
By Our Representative
The Khedut Samaj Gujarat (KSG), a non-political farmers’ organization, has declared that, under its leadership, a farmers’ rally would be taken out from Dabhala Chowkadi, off Ahmedabad, to Gandhinagar on June 8 to voice their concern about “refusal” of the Gujarat government to return the land taken away from them in the name of urbanization.
Essentially a vehicles rally in which farmers would come in tractor, cars and motorcycles, KSG said, it plans to hand over a memorandum to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani in Gandhinagar, demanding withdrawal of the 2009 notification, which declared about 625 sq km as part of the Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority (AUDA).
Sabar Rabari, convener, KSG, said in a statement, he, accompanied by farmers’ representatives first met AUDA chairman Bhupendra Patel a fortnight ago, and then deputy chief minister Nitin Patel – who also happens to be urban development minister – last week to apprise them of their demand, but “they do not seem to give an ear the demand.”
No doubt, Rabari told Counterview, Bhupendra Patel, who is a local BJP leader of Ahmedabad and a builder, admitted while talking to him and his colleagues that there has been “little movement” towards urbanizing about 62,500 hectares, or 625 sq kilometres, merged into AUDA in 2009 through a notification.
“The AUDA chairman even agreed that the land set aside for urban development around Ahmedabad should be returned, as nothing so far been done towards developing the area’s urban infrastructure, as earlier planned. However, he admitted, things are not in his hand. It was for the government to decide”, Rabari said.
Later, accompanied with farmers’ representatives, when he met Nitin Patel, the latter only promised to “look into the matter”, but refused to give any concrete assurance, said Rabari, adding, “Nitin Patel looked quite disturbed. He went far as to accuse us of provoking farmers. However, later he calmed down.”
In 2009, the Gujarat government, through a notification merged 68 villages of Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar districts into AUDA. With a total area of 625 sq km or 62,500 hectares (ha), there has not been any movement towards planned infrastructure urbanization of the area.
Meanwhile, the view has gone strong among farmers that this was just a ploy to appropriate their land. Pasturelands have also been sacrificed in the name of urbanization, Rabari said, adding, “While farmers are all set to lose about 40-50 per cent of their land under the Town Planning (TP) Act, there is a fear that they would be rendered without any means of livelihood if as and when a TP scheme is implemented.”
The TP Act requires farmers to part with 40 to 50 per cent of their land in the name of developing urban infrastructure once a TP scheme is floated in a particular area. “The government has left no option before the farmers. It does not want to listen to them. Hence the decision to protest”, Rabari said.
Rabari said, KSG programme would be a totally non-political event. Those wanting to join it were welcome, but without any political banner.

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