Skip to main content

Land acquisition for Dholera smart city stayed: Setback to Gujarat government, farmers relieved

Farmers protest against Dholera SIR in November first week
By Our Representative
In an important "relief" to the farmers of living in the 900 sq km Dholera Special Investment Region (SIR), touted by the Gujarat government as a Greenfield smart city about 100 kilometres south of Ahmedabad, the Gujarat High Court has order to maintain status quo on land acquisition for going ahead with the project.
The Gujarat Khedut Samaj (GKS), an upcoming farmers’ organization, along with the local farmers’ organization, Bhal Bachao Samiti (BBS), had approached the High Court with a public interest litigation (PIL) No 227/2014 against Gujarat Government’s decision to develop the area under the Special Investment Region (SIR) Act, 2009. It came up for hearing on Thursday.
The petition, argued by senior advocate Krishnakant Vakhariya, known to be attached with the Congress, “argued on the constitutional point that the power given to the Gram Panchayats cannot be taken away by a notification” on land acquisition, said Sagar Rabari of the GKS.
Those belonging to villages Kadipur, Bhadiad, Gorasu, Otariya, Dholera, Khun, Bhimtalav, Rahtalav, Mundi and Sandhida of Dholera SIR would gain immediate relief, as state officials were found going around several villages, handing over notices served to the farmers about their land having been "acquired". 
"The people in one of the villages gheraoed the officials and did not allow them to carry out their task. After much persuasion they were allowed to leave in the evening. In another village they were simply shooed out of the village", Rabari said.
Earlier, thousands of farmers of Dholera SIR were sent notices under the Gujarat town planning law that they should be ready to surrender 50 per cent of their land in the name of developing infrastructure of the proposed smart city. The law empowers the state to acquire a portion of agricultural land.
The compensation payable, under the law, interestingly, is equal to the government-determined value of land, called jantri, which is often several times lower than the market rate. Fixed about four years ago, jantri is not revised every year, as required.
While the farmers’ land has still not be physically acquired, the Gujarat government quietly “declared” in mid-2015 that about 29,503 hactares (ha) of land of the Dholera SIR, which was handed over to small farmers during land reforms days in 1960s, but whose land titles remained unclear, have become the property of the special purpose vehicle (SPV), created for the smart city.
All this angered the farmers, but when the proposed to begin a protest, in October-end, the Gujarat government stopped the farmers from protesting for their demands, saying this would create “law and order” problems in the region. Following the High Court order, however, the government was forced to allow the protest to take place.
The GKS petition asked the Gujarat High Court to declare ultra vires particular provisions of land acquisition under the Gujarat SIR Act, 2009, as they were against “the basic structure of the Constitution of India”, especially the articles, which allow freedom of the farmers to express their view as equal citizens.
The GKS particularly sought High Court intervention to “quash and set aside the Development Plan and Town Planning Scheme” applied on the Dholera SIR, saying this has been done without consultation of the villagers concerned.
It said, “appropriate directions” should given to “restrain” the government “from taking possession of the land from the land owners in the Region without complying with the provisions of Resettlement Act, more particularly without payment of compensation as contemplated under the Resettlement Act.”
Further, it said, the Gujarat government should be stayed from its decision to de-command the Dholera SIR region, which was to get waters from the Narmada canal for cultivation. “Pending final hearing of this petition”, it said, “an interim relief… from de-commanding the area of 22 villages” of the SIR area, allowing the farmers benefit of the Narmada water.
Meanwhile, there were indications that the government refusal to provide Narmada waters to Dholera SIR is likely to affect the rural areas in the east of region, including those in Bhavnagar. Babubhai Panara, sarpanch of village Rajgadh of Bhavnagar taluka has gone on an indefinite fast protesting the government’s refusal to provide irrigation water to downstream villages beyond Nawda. 
"He has been joined by many people of the area. The Dhandhuka-Barwala branch canal of the Narmada canal provides drinking water to Saurashtra which is pumped from village Nawda. The entire canal (from Barwala) is completed yet irrigation water is being denied to the downstream villages. No minister or government official has bothered to talk to the people", Rabari said.

Comments

The solution might be declared soon.

TRENDING

Mallika Sarabhai releases speech she was 'not allowed' to give at NID Convocation on Feb 7

Counterview Desk
The National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad, a Ministry of Commerce and Industry body, landed itself in controversy following its decision to put off its 40th convocation ceremony, where noted danseuse Mallika Sarabhai was invited as chief guest. The ceremony was scheduled to be held on February 7.

Modi, Shah 'forget': Gandhi’s first Satyagraha was against citizenship law of South Africa

By Nachiketa Desai*
Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi once on January 30, 1948 but his followers raising the war cry of ‘Jai Sriram’ are killing the Mahatma every day. In his home state of Gujarat, Gandhiji was killed a thousand times in 2002 when over 2,000 Muslims were butchered, their women raped, homes and shops plundered and set on fire and even unborn babies ripped out of the wombs of their mothers.

Across the board, among Muslims, Hindus, there's enormous fury at Delhi Police: Report

Counterview Desk
A quick report, prepared by Delhi's concerned citizens, "Let Us Heal Our Dilli", based on one-day visit (February 27) to several areas and mohallas of North East Delhi affected by the riots that gripped the country's capital -- Bhajanpura, Chand Bagh, Gokulpuri, Chaman Park, Shiv Vihar, Main Mustafabad (including Bhagirathi Vihar and Brijpuri) -- has said everywhere there is "zero trust" towards that the police.

Rani Laxmi Bai, Tatya Tope 'martyred' by East India Company, Scindia's forefathers

By Our Representative
In an email alert to Counterview, well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam has said that was “shameful for any political party in democratic India to keep children of Sindhias in their flock” given their role during the First War of Indian Independence (1857). In a direct commentary on Madhya Pradesh Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia moving over to BJP, Prof Islam has quote from a British gazetteer to prove his point.

As corona virus 'travels' to rural areas, NGO begins training tribals, marginalised women

By Souparno Chatterjee*
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared corona virus a pandemic. Originating from Wuhan in China, it has traversed the entire globe, almost, and claimed more than 16,000 lives already. That’s largely the urban population. In India, despite all the preparedness and war-like promptness to safeguard against the pandemic, several lives have been lost , and hundreds of individuals have tested positive.

Big 'danger' of NPR: A babu can tag anyone as doubtful citizen, Jharkhand meet told

' By Our Representative
People in large numbers from across Jharkhand gathered at the Raj Bhawan in Ranchi to demand that the Hemant Soren government reject National Population Register (NPR) and stop all NPR-related activities. The people’s organisations which participated in the dharna under the banner of the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JMM) resolved to intensify their struggle, insisting, NPR is not a Hindu-Muslim issue but is essentially anti-poor.

COVID-19: Dalit rights bodies regret, no relief plan yet for SCs, STs, marginalized

By Our Representative
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the National Dalit Watch-National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, endorsed* by several other Dalit rights organizations, have insisted, the Government of India should particular care of the scheduled castes and tribes, trans folks, persons with disabilities and the women and children from these communities, while fighting against COVID-19 pandemic.

Gujarat govt plan to 'banish' Gandhian activist anti-democratic, unconstitutional

By Rohit Prajapati*
The current Central and Gujarat governments, and their bureaucracy, have been and are still unable to answer and address the concerns raised, with facts, figures, and constitutional provisions, regarding the terror of tourism in the name of the Statue of Unity and tourism projects surrounding it.

Haridwar Swamis lead Khudai Khidmatgar peace march in Delhi 'riot affected' areas

By Our Representative
A Khudai Kidmatgar team, which visited the riot-affected regions along with Swami Shivanand Saraswati and Swami Punyanand, has insisted that India's true heritage is the lesson of ‘vasudhaiv kutumbakam', and it is the responsibility of all to carry froward this legacy. Originally founded by Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan in 1930, also known as Frontier Gandhi, Khudai Khidmatgar is claimed to have been revived by young Gandhian activist Faisal Khan in 2011.