Skip to main content

Dholera SIR challenged: Gujarat High Court bench issues notice to state, central government

Farmers of Dholera SIR
By Our Representative
Five years after it was enacted, a farmers’ body of Gujarat has challenged the constitutional validity of the state’s Special Investment Region (SIR) Act, 2009. The Gujarat Khedut Samaj (GKU), in a statement issued in Ahmedabad, said that the GKU, in association with “residents of 22 villages of Dholera SIR” -- being set up on 55,000 hectares (ha) of land towards the south of Ahmedabad along the Gulf of Khambhat as a smart city as a Central government project -- have “challenged” the Act and the notification declaring Dholera region as SIR.
“The division bench of the Gujarat High Court consisting of Chief Justice Bhattacharya and Justice Jamshed Pardiwala heard the plea filed by senior advocate Krishnakant Vakharia and admitted the petition. They have issued notices to the Dholera SIR Authority, the Government of Gujarat and the Government of India. The prayer for a stay order will be heard after two weeks”, the statement said.
The Gujarat government has planned a dozen SIRs, of which two are under implementation – in Dholera and in Dahej-Hazira in South Gujarat. One of the dozen SIRs, Mandal-Bhechraji in North Gujarat, was drastically scaled down from 44 villages to just eight villages following farmers’ protests.
Challenging the Act, the petitioners said, as per the section 17 of the Act, the Gujarat government “can apply the Gujarat Town Planning and Urban Development Act under which it has the right to take away 50 per cent of the farmers’ land without any compensation.” They added, “The powers and jurisdiction of the panchayats have been restricted to the village gamtal only.”
At the same time, the petitioners underlined, “The provisions of the SIR Act are contrary to the provisions in the 9th Schedule of the Constitution pertaining to panchayats, and is therefore unconstitutional.” According to a senior constitutional expert, “The 9th schedule was included in the Indian constitution with the objective to deny the courts the power to challenge the validity of certain laws framed by Parliament to protect citizens from violation of fundamental rights and measures progressive land reforms laws.”
The decision to challenge the SIR Act comes following a flutter among Dholera SIR farmers, who have received notices to acquire 50 per cent of their land they have been owning for generations (click HERE to read). The notice, copies of which are with Counterview, warns the farmers that they must report to the authorities on a given date and hand over the possession of their land.
The notice further says, the farmers must instead take the title of a new piece, which would be half of the original. If they fail to do it, the Dholera SIR authorities reserve the right to evict them from their original piece land. The land, the notice says, has been taken away, under Section 17(2) of the Gujarat SIR Act, 2009, which puts the entire SIR area under the Gujarat Town Planning and Urban Development Act, 1976 for developing roads for the SIR.
Significantly, the issue of 50 per cent deduction of land came up at the environmental public hearing for Dholera SIR, which took place on January 3, 2014, where farmers raised strong protest against it. The Gujarat government officials told them that in the “Development Plan and Draft Town Plan” for Dholera, there wouldn’t be any deduction of land only for “notified rivers, ponds and water bodies”, but “with a view to provide world class infrastructure and premium civic amenities in Dholera SIR, a policy decision has been taken on 50 per cent deduction of land”.
KD Chandnani, CEO, Dholera SIR Development Authority, told the hearing, “Under the Town Planning Scheme, after deduction of land up to 50 per cent, land will be allotted to the original land owner in a geometric shape, and with all the infrastructure facilities, in the form of a final plot. Compensation for the deducted land will be paid as per the jantri April 2011.” Jantri is the government assessment of the value of land, and the rate being applied as compensation is several times less than the market value the farmers can get in case they sale away their land on their own today.

Comments

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

India sees 62 journo deaths, 4th highest, amidst pandemic: Swiss media rights body

By Our Representative The Switzerland-based media rights body Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) has noted that India is the fourth most affected country as far as mediapersons’ death on account of Covid-19 is concerned. According to Blaise Lempen, secretary-general of PEC, the global tally of casualties among media persons in the Covid-19 pandemic has reached 1,036 journalists in 73 countries till date.

Liberating Bengal Hindus? Worst flames of communal division, lessons from the past

By Shamsul Islam*  The whole thrust of the RSS-BJP election campaign for 2021 state assembly elections in West Bengal has been to save Bengal from the rule of Mamata Bannerjee who is allegedly not a ‘Hindu’. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a self-proclaimed Hindu nationalist, as usual set the polarizing agenda. While addressing the first election rally, he called upon the electorate to overthrow the ‘nirmam’ (cruel) rule of Mamata by showing a ‘Ram Card’. He did not name Hindus directly but there was no confusion about the religious identity of the electorate Indian PM was addressing to.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Pradeep Bhattacharya, who spent his life for the cause of working masses, rational thinking

By YS Gill*  At 11:30 pm on May 3, 2021, I lost my best friend and comrade Pradeep Bhattacharya. He spent his life dedicated to the cause of the working masses and rational thinking. A person of thorough scientific outlook and a well-read student of Marxian thought, he was a walking encyclopedia and could speak on a wide variety of topics from art and culture to science, philosophy, history and politics.

Rs 5 crore 'demand' for India Today anchor: What about 52 lesser souls who died in April?

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  A well known Hindutva protagonist masquerading as journalist passed away recently resulting in messages of condolences and tribute right from the Prime Minister and the Home Minister to progressive liberals expressing grief of his untimely death. It is said that he passed away due to cardiac arrest, though the fact is, he was also Covid infected. The Prime Minister and the Home Minister termed him a ‘brave’ journalist, insisting, his passing away has left a big ‘vacuum’.

Modi's Hindutva 'ensuring' empowerment of rich, disenfranchisement of poor

Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The Hindutva socio-psychopaths are neither nationalists nor patriotic people. These medieval reactionary forces don’t understand the idea of citizenship, justice, liberty, equality and humanism. Indian democracy is merely an electoral transaction for the Hindutva forces. Hindutva forces neither follow science nor understand the sufferings of fellow human beings. These core qualities are common among the Hindutva forces in India.

Communal rhetoric? Hindutva preached by RSS-BJP is 'monolithic', not Hinduism

By Prem Verma*  I am a devout Hindu but not a believer of RSS Hindutva form of Hinduism which brings about hatred of other religions. My Hindu religion has not taught me to look down on other religions and neither has it instilled in me to go about converting others to my religion because my religion is superior.

India's Covid-19 'nightmare': A product of majoritarian Hindutva ideological praxis?

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  Indians struggle to find place and time to bury their dead due to the devastating effects of the second wave of Covid-19 in India. The crematoriums in the capital cities are overflowing with dead bodies. People are dying without oxygen and basic medical support. The cities like Delhi and Mumbai are struggling to cope with the rising number of infections and COVID-19 led deaths. The deaths and destitutions are products of a defunct BJP government led by Narendra Modi.

Indian media persons collapsing to Covid disease as fast as 3 per day, third highest

Yogesh Sharma, Shailesh Rawal  By Our Representative  The Switzerland based media rights and safety body, Press Emblem Campaign ( PEC ) has said that it is “alarming for Indian journalists”, who have lost at least 107 colleagues to Covid-19”, noting, Indian “journo-colleagues” have been collapsing to the Covid-19 complications now as fast as three scribes per day. In a statement, PEC said, “India with 107 media corona-casualties has already placed itself on the third position just below Brazil (181 dead) and Peru (140) in the list of Covid-19 victims among journalist.”