Skip to main content

Gujarat's smart city project in Dholera SIR faces fresh threat: From Kolis, numercially strong OBC community

Kunvarji Bavalia
By Our Representative
In a development of far-reaching political significance, the powerful association representing the numerically strong Other Backward Class (OBC) community of Gujarat, Kolis, has announced its backing to the farmers' demand to scrap the Dholera Special Investment Region (SIR), situated in the south of Ahmedabad, along the Gulf of Khambhat.
Declared SIR by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his chief ministership of Gujarat on a 920 sq km of land, Dholera SIR is one of the major regions where the state government has planned a Greenfield smart city with all the modern amenities.
A mini-Japan township proposal for the Japanese businessmen coming to India to set up the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) is also pending for the Dholera SIR region, one reason why the state government is so keen to go ahead with the smart city project. Also pending is a proposal to set up a world class international airport bordering Dholera SIR.
Fresh opposition to Dholera SIR has come after at least three SIRs in Gujarat – at Olpad, Hazira and Mandal-Bhechraji – were either scrapped or scaled down following farmers' agitations. So far, the agitation against Dholera SIR, led by Gujarat Khedut Samaj, had failed to pick up, as it had failed to gather numerically strong Kolis.
Ever since Dholera was declared to be developed as SIR about a decade ago, the landed farmers, mainly consisting of upper caste Rajputs and Patels, began taking strong exception to the state government's declared plan to take away about 50 per cent of of land under the pretext of setting up urban infrastructure in Dholera SIR.
More recently, the Gujarat government move to declared the land, currently in physical possession of small and marginal farmers, mainly Kolis, as belonging to state government, caused a major flutter in the OBC community, which forms nearly 80 per cent of the population of the region.
Talking with newspersons in Ahmedabad, Akhil Bharatiya Koli Samaj's Gujarat president Kunvarji Bawalia, a former Congress MP, declared his organization's support to the big farmers' demand to scrap SIR and not meddle with the big and small farmers' land rights.
“We have decided to organize a demonstration on April 24 on the gate of Dholera SIR in favour of our demand, on the highway between Ahmedabad and Bhavnagar. The demonstration has been necessitated because the state government has, by a simple declaration, taken away land allocated to the Kolis during the land reforms day”, he said.
“What has made things particularly queer”, Bawalia said, “is that, while thousands of hectares of land in Dholera SIR area was handed over to about 2,500 Koli families as part of the land reforms during the 1960s, the successive state governments never cared to issue title certificates to the farmers tilling the land.”
“Taking advantage of this officla lapse”, Bawalia said, “the state government has declared about 28,000 hectares, cultivated by mainly Koli small and marginal farmers, as government land; the land has been transferred to the Dholera SIR authority and put up for sale.”
Pointing out that the Kolis face the predicament of becoming landless, Bawalia said, “We plan to gather about 1 lakh Kolis and other communities, including Patels and Kshatriyas, to oppose the SIR. Recently, Satyarayan Pawar, the all-India president of the Akhil Bharatiya Khedut Samaj has visited the SIR and met with local community leaders and declared support.”
Answering newspersons, Bawalia – who was accompanied by regional Koli chief Karsanbhai Chauhan, former MLA Ranchhodbhai Mer, and five other community leaders – said, “We are not opposed to industrialization of the region. However, we oppose land acquisition in the name of SIR by taking away farmers' land without consulting village panchayats. If industrialists want, they can directly negotiate with farmers.”

Comments

TRENDING

Telangana govt proposes to give unfettered powers to forest officials, 'help' corporates

By Dr Palla Trinadha Rao*
The Telangana Government is contemplating to replace the Telangana Forest Act 1967 with a new law - the Telangana Forest Act (TFA) 2019, trampling the rights of adivasis ensured under the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA Act 2006) and Panchayats Extension to Schedule Area (PESA) Act 1996 both of which are central acts.

RSS, Hindu Mahasabha were 'subservient' to British masters: Nagpur varsity VC told

Counterview Desk
Well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam, associate professor (retired), University of Delhi, in an open letter to the vice-chancellor of the Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University, Dr Siddharthavinayaka P Kane, has taken strong exception to the varsity decision to include RSS’ “role” in nation building in the syllabus of the BA (history) course, citing instances to say that the RSS ever since its birth in 1925 with its Hindutva allies like Hindu Mahasabha led by VD Savarkar worked overtime to “betray the glorious anti-colonial freedom struggle”.

It's now official: Developed Gujarat's regular, casual workers earn less than 19 top states

By Rajiv Shah
Though not as low as state chief minister Vijay Rupani claims it to be (0.9%), Gujarat’s unemployment rate, at least as reflected in a recent report released by the Government of India, is 4.8%, lower than the national average, 6%. Yet, ironically, the same report, released soon after the Lok Sabha polls came to an end in May 2019, brings to light an even grimmer reality: Lower wages in "model" and "developed" Gujarat compared to virtually the whole of India, including the so-called Bimaru states.

British companies export 'deadly' asbestos to India, other countries from offshore offices

By Rajiv Shah
“The Sunday Times”, which forms part of the powerful British daily, “The Times”, has raised the alarm that though the “deadly” asbestos is banned in Britain, companies registered in United Kingdom, and operating from other countries, “are involved in shipping it to developing nations”, especially India. India, Brazil, Russia and China account for almost 80% of the asbestos consumed globally every year, it adds.

Amaravati: World Bank refusing to share public grievances on Land Pooling Scheme

By Our Representative
A new report, prepared by the advocacy group Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), New Delhi, has taken strong exception to the World Bank refusing to share its independent assessment of the Land Pooling Scheme (LPS), floated by the Andhra Pradesh government in order to build the new capital.

Beijing-based infrastructure bank 'funding' India's environmentally risky projects

By Our Representative
A new civil society note has questioned the operations of the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a multilateral development bank that aims to support the building of infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region, seeking to fund projects in India through the Government of India’s National Infrastructure Investment Fund (NIIF), calling it “a risky venture”.

Include all workers exposed to silica dust in anti-TB programme: Govt of India told

Counterview Desk
In a letter, sponsored by well-known civil rights organization, Occupational & Environmental Health Network of India and signed by more than 60 professionals and activists*, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, has been told that Indian policy makers shouldn't just acknowledge higher TB risk to mine and stone crusher workers, but also “other silica-exposed workers”.

Universal healthcare? India lacks provisions to 'fight' non-communicable diseases

By Moin Qazi*
Universal health coverage (UHC) -- ensuring that all people receive proper and adequate health care without suffering financial hardship -- is an integral part of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. It enables countries to make the most of their strongest asset: human capital.

Gender budgeting? Govt of India allocates just 2.1%, 0.73% for SC, ST women

By Rajiv Shah
The National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR), one of the most influential all-India Dalit rights networks, has taken strong exception to the manner in which the Government of India has undermined Gender Responsive Budgeting in the Union Budget 2019-20 for scheduled castes (SCs) and scheduled tribes (STs), pointing towards “wide gaps” between the goals and the situational reality of “the Dalit and Adivasi women on the ground.”

Polygamy in India "down" in 45 yrs: Muslims' from 5.7 to 2.55%, Hindus' 5.8 to 1.77%, "common" in SCs, STs

By Rajiv Shah
Amidst All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) justifying polygamy, saying it “meets social and moral needs and the provision for it stems from concern and sympathy for women”, facts suggest the the practice is down from 5.7 per cent of Muslim families in 1961 to 2.55 per cent in 2006.