Skip to main content

How Gujarat babudom dictates terms to village heads to "convert" agricultural land into non-agricultural (NA) use

By Pankti Jog*
The 73rd and 74th amendments to the Constitution of India may have given powers to the panchayati raj system, but a glaring instance suggests that Gujarat bureaucracy still wants to dictate terms to elected representatives of Gram Sabhas.  The sarpanch of Mota Samdhiyala village off Gir forests in Junagadh district, was shocked when he received a notice demanding a no-objection certificate (NOC) to transform 4,857 sq metres of agricultural land to non-agricultural (NA) without reference number, the district development office’s (DDO's) letterhead, date or even the seal.
The letter asks the village head to “verify following points for NA”, without giving any points for verification. Yet, ironically, it insists, the sarpanch is supposed to give his NOC within 21days, failing which, warning, the procedure for allotting NA certificate would be initiated. Necessary documents were not attached, except for the layout plan of the applicant who had sought NA.
“How can I be asked to give NOC without having basic documents of ownership, including the title clearance certificate (under section 7/12, 8a), or the documents which show whether the land belongs to the juni sharat (old tenure) or navi sharat (new tenure)?”, the sarpanch wonders.
The new tenure agricultural land in Gujarat differs from old tenure land, in that it was allotted to poor or landless farmers as part of the land reforms process. Any NA activity sought to be carried out on new tenure land must be first converted into old tenure on payment of premium to the government.
The plan submitted for developing the 4,856 sq metres on acquiring NA, sanctioned by the town planner, itself seemed faulty: It showed a common plot in one corner of the proposed building, though it should have been in the middle. It does not mention of the location of water pipeline and sewerage lines, either.
As per Gujarat’s Panchayati Raj Act, one needs to have clearance certificate from the concerned department saying that there is no “land acquisition process due on the above land”, which also was not given in this case.
On February 7, 2015, the sarpanch informed the DDO that he would not be able to give NOC unless he received all the documents. To his surprise, the same letter was posted back to him, and this time with date mentioned for posting the letter back to him was February 5, 2015! Finally, the sarpanch decided to fight back.
“I gave detailed response showing technical flaws in the proposal itself, along with violation of procedure to give NA certificate. For example, one third of the total area needs to be reserved (used) for common plot, plus internal roads”, the sarpanch said.
“Secondly”, he said, “The district authorities did not furnish any of the documents demanded by me, which is a prerequisite for me giving NOC. The proposal did not even have the address of the applicant but only of the correspondent, who seemed to be an agent.”
In Gujarat, getting NA has become lucrative business for agents. Letters are drafted in such a way that they do not mention about the verification process, but dictate terms, and most of the village heads give NOC without actually getting any details of the proposals.
According to one agent, the unofficial “rate” for getting NA done depends on the kind of use of land, and is up to 15 per cent of the cost of the land. In this case, after receiving the response from the sarpach, instead of asking the applicant to furnish necessary details, the DDO decided to refuse the permission of NA on February 26, 2015.
“This is very serious issue”, says secretary of Gujarat NGOs’ network Janpath Harinesh Pandya, part of the Land Study Group constituted by the Ministry of Rural Development in 2012-13 to understand land rights issues of marginalized communities in Gujarat. “The government is facilitating NA, but checks and balances are not taken care of. Hence, the state not only loses agriculture land, but also revenue to be generated through such conversions.”
---
*Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pahel (MAGP), Ahmedabad

Comments

TRENDING

Quit India Movement 'betrayal' and dubious role of Hindu Mahasabha, RSS leaders

By Shamsul Islam*
After the recent guillotine of Article 370, Hindutva ideologue Ram Madhav, while celebrating the occasion stated that it was honouring of the sacrifices of Dr Shyam Prasad Mukherjee and thousands others who laid down their lives for its removal. It is to be noted that Dr Mukherjee was a cadre of RSS and was groomed into a Hindutva leader by another Hindutva icon, VD Savarkar.

Impact of state repression? Kashmir's 65% people prefer independence: Cambridge study

By Rajiv Shah 
Even as the Government of India’s controversial move to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) into two union territories is not only refusing to down die but has acquired international dimensions, a recent study, published by the Cambridge University Press, has claimed “pro-independence attitudes” among that 65% of Kashmiris, warning, this sentiment worsens when the state machinery resorts “repressive violence”.

Congress' anti-democratic laws led to Modi govt's 'Constitutional' changes: Scholars

Counterview Desk
A large number of academics* said to be belonging to several Indian and international institutions, even as taking strong exception to the Narendra Modi government's alleged move to amend the Constitution through "illegitimate" means, have taken strong exception to their colleagues in academia who we have become "all too accustomed to adopting a calculated silence in the face of such indignities."

Kashmir normal? Schoolboys, teenagers being arbitrarily picked up, detained: Report

Counterview Desk
A four-person team, consisting of Jean Dr├Ęze, well-known development economist; Kavita Krishnan, who is with the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist); Maimoona Mollah of the All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA); and Vimal Bhai of the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), back from a five-day fact-finding mission (August 9-13) from Kashmir, has said that people they spoke to “expressed their pain, anger, and sense of betrayal against the Government of India.”
In a report, “Kashmir Caged”, released along with a short eight-minute film, they said, the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A, dissolution of the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), and bifurcating it into two Union Territories, is not being supported by anyone they met, except for BJP spokesperson on Kashmir affairs Ashwani Kumar Chrungoo, who claimed 46% vote share in J&K.
Excerpts from the report: When our flight landed, and the airlines staff announced that passeng…

Skewed sex ratio 'behind' ban on rural Thakor girls' mobile use, inter-caste marriage

By Jharna Pathak*
On July 14, 2019, the Thakor community of 12 villages of Banaskantha district in Gujarat announced a ban on the use of mobile phones by unmarried women. Simultaneously, they imposed penalties on inter-caste marriages. The family of any girl of the community marrying without the consent of her parents would now be fined Rs 1.5 lakh while that of a boy marrying a girl from other community without his family’s consent would be penalised with a fine of Rs 2 lakh.

Were JVCs, rock cutters 'reinforcing' Statue of Unity base on dry Narmada riverbed?

By Kevin Antao* 
Having seen photographs and write-ups on the world’s tallest Statue of Unity, constructed and assembled off Narmada dam in South Gujarat, I always wanted to visit the site and see for myself the great marvel that it was being made out to be.

Sardar Patel's 'notable' achievement on J&K: Insertion of Article 370 in Constitution

By Shamsul Islam*
One of the "truths" manufactured in the boudhik shibirs (ideological training camps) of the RSS is that it was Jawaharlal Nehru who forced Article 370 on India while Sardar Patel, the first home minister of India, was opposed to it. The RSS leaders both inside the Modi government and outside ceaselessly keep on blaming Jawaharlal Nehru as the sole architect of Article 370, giving Kashmir special status.

Kashmir kayoed, bhakts 'jubilant': Much like crowds when Hitler purged Jews, Catholics

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
August 12, 2019 was the great festival of Eid al-Adha (incidentally, for Jews, Christians and Muslims – the sacrifice of Abraham is a very significant one); for the people of Kashmir however, this year Eid was a sad day indeed, what with the lockdown and communications blockade!

Dholera 'inundated': Gujarat govt promotes low lying area as top smart city site

Counterview Desk
Even as the Dholera Special Investment Region Regional Development Authority (DSIRDA) of the Gujarat government was busy organising a junket for Gujarat-based journalists for the area sought to be sold as an ideal special investment region (SIR) for industrialists, well-known farmers' activist Sagar Rabari has wondered why no investor has so far agreed to put in money in an area situated in Ahmedabad district along the Gulf of Khambhat.

J&K curbs 'violate' International Covenant on civil, political rights: Letter to Modi

Counterview Desk
The International Federation for Human Rights (IFDH), a Paris-based human rights NGO with global presence, has sent an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying the decision to “reconfigurate” Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), remove its special status and impose a “complete lock-down of the region” violates Kashmiris’ “fundamental right to self-determination and their right to participate in crucial decisions that affect their lives.”