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Farmers to lose 35% land: Gujarat govt decision to implement of "sub judice" Surat urban development plan

Sabar Rabari
By Our Representative
The Khedut Samaj – Gujarat (KSG), the apex body of farmers' organizations across the state, has estimated that thousands of farmers of 104 villages of Olpad, Choryasi, Kamrej, Palsana and Mangrol talukas of Surat district are likely to lose 35 per cent of their land owing to the declaration that these villages will be inducted into Surat Urban Development Authority (SUDA).

The KSG, in a statement, has said, this is even against the provisions of the Gujarat Town Planning and Urban Development Act, 1976, under which just 20 per cent of the land of the farmers is to be deducted in case a development plan is development plan is floated in a particular rural area.
Asking “Why should the farmers part with their priceless assets for development plans which are useless for them?”, the KSG statement, signed by Sagar Rabari, its leader, has demanded cancellation of the development plan announced by SUDA, calling it “anti-development” from the farmers' angle.
Announced on May 7, the SUDA's development plan was preceded by “large-scale changes effected even to the 95 villages taken into SUDA in 1983”, Rabari says, adding, “Farmers of the 199 villages spread over 1,02,400 hectares (ha) know how devastating the effects of ‘development’ can be.”
It took away “the extremely fertile area of of 199 villages (95 earlier and present 104) on the left and right banks of the Ukai and Kakrapar irrigation schemes, reaping rich yields of sugarcane, bananas, cotton, papaya and vegetables”, Rabari says.
Pointing out that the people of the area and the cooperative sector are intimately connected, Rabari estimtes, the area contribures Rs 1741crore of agri-based production -- Rs 1227 from sugar, Rs 252 crore from milk, Rs 171 crore from paddy, and Rs 89 crore from vegetables.
“The proposed development thus endangers the very existence of the cooperative sector of the region”, he says, adding, “The sugar factories of Kamrej, Sayan, Chalthan, Maroli, Pandvai, Vataria, Kotha and Bardoli which get the raw material from this area also face grim prospects for their survival if the development plan is allowed to materialise.”
Pointing out that there is also a procedural lapse, KSG says, “Parliament has added sections 243ZD and 243ZE to the Constitution through constitutional amendment. As per these amendments, the development plan of an area is to be developed by a development authority comprising the chairpersons of the village panchayats, elected members of the taluka and district panchayats, and mayor in case of a municipality or a corporation.”
“The role of the bureaucrats is to offer technical assistance only; the development plans have to be sanctioned by the development authority. The state government cannot impose its vision/version of development from above. Exactly the opposite is happening here”, it says.
Yet, it regrets, “The amendment has not been implemented till date by the Gujarat government, forcing the KSG and other organisations to petition the High Court of Gujarat in this regard (petition no. 1480/2016 and 1480/2016) to direct the Government of Gujarat to implement the amendment.”
Failing to directly oppose the petition, Rabari says, “The sate government has sought time in order to implement the amendment. When the matter is yet sub-judice and the government is yet to act on its undertaking, such a unilateral announcement is tantamount to contempt of the Constitution, the Court and indeed of the people.”

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