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

Young environmentalist's arrest 'sinister', even parents not told of her whereabouts

By Our Representative  The Coalition for Environmental Justice in India (CEJI), a civil society network, has said that it is “highly disturbing” that Disha Ravi, a young woman climate activist from Bengaluru was “picked up” in what is referred to as a “closely guarded operation” of the Delhi police. Disha, 21, has been remanded to police custody for five days after she was taken from Bengaluru to Delhi.

Mukesh Ambani's earnings during Covid 'can lift' 40% informal workers out of poverty

By Dr Gian Singh*  The Inequality Virus Report released by Oxfam, a non-profit organization, on January 25, 2021 on the growing inequalities in different parts of the world, sheds light on the growing economic, educational, healthcare and gender inequalities in India. The report has revealed that the wealth of billionaires has increased by 35 per cent during the lockdown period in the country.

US forensic revelation enough evidence to release Sudha Bharadwaj, others: Civicus

Counterview Desk  Civicus, a Johannesburg-based global alliance of civil society organisations and activists claiming to have presence in 175 countries with 9,000 members and working for strengthening citizen action, has sought immediate release of Sudha Bharadwaj, arrested in 2018 under the anti-terror Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and accused of having links with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist).

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.

Golwalkar's views on tricolour, martyrs, minorities, caste as per RSS archives

By Shamsul Islam*  First time in the history of independent India, the in-charge minister of the Cultural Ministry in the current Modi government, Prahlad Singh Patel, has glorified MS Golwalkar, second supremo of the RSS and the most prominent ideologue of the RSS till date, on his birth anniversary, February 19. In a tweet he wrote : “Remembering a great thinker, scholar, and remarkable leader #MSGolwalkar on his birth anniversary. His thoughts will remain a source of inspiration & continue to guide generations.”

Evolution of Sardar Patel's understanding of those 'involved' in Gandhi's assassination

By Shamsul Islam*  As the world mourns the 73rd anniversary of MK Gandhi's assassination by Hindutva terrorists on January 30, 1948, RSS, the most prominent flag-bearer of Hindutva politics, whose cadres rule India today, is found reacting angrily to the reality – that the criminals who assassinated Gandhiji were not only part of the ideological world-view of Hindu Mahasabha (led by VD Savarkar) and RSS brand of Hindu nationalism but were also connected with these. 

No Election Commission safeguard against electromagnetic hacking of EVM: Study

Counterview Desk  Releasing a new study simultaneously in Chennai and Kolkata in view of the forthcoming elections in Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, the Citizens’ Commission on Elections (CCE) – a civil society initiative – has regretted “lack of integrity of EVM voting”, pointing out, the Election Commission of India (ECI) does not appear to safeguard against the possibilities of ‘side-channel attacks’, i.e, hacking electronic devices through electromagnetic and other methods.

20% of FIRs against journalists in 2020 alone, targeted attacks in 2021 'too many to count'

Counterview Desk  Condemning what it calls “alarming rise in state repression and clampdown on news outlets and journalists” that “expose” the anti-people nature of the establishment, India's top civil society network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) has demanded “immediate release of arrested journalists, withdrawal of arbitrary charges and protection of media persons facing threats.”

Top academic claims he warned farmer leaders of Hindutva plot on Jan 26 morning

By Shamsul Islam* The photographs here show a Hindutva protagonist, Deep Sidhu, with his real masters. He is said to be the culprit who tried to derail the historic farmers' struggle by putting up a religious flag at Red Fort on January 26, with no Delhi police which works under the Indian home minister Amit Shah, a senior RSS cadre who is often described 'Iron Man' by Hindutva camp-followers. 

'Viability' of agricultural cooperatives vs govt proposed pro-corporate economic model

Dr Gian Singh* The farmer struggle started from Punjab against the promulgation of three agricultural ordinances by the Union government in June 2020 and the enactment of three bills by Parliament in September 2020 to replace these ordinances is unique in many respects. There is no other example of such a peaceful and democratic farmer struggle.