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Gujarat politician-builder-babu nexus "eyes" Rs 38,000 crore land, plans to shift Surat small industries location

By Sagar Rabari*
The Gujarat government decision to merge, through a Development Plan (DP), 104 villages of five talukas, Olpad, Choryasi, Kamrej, Palsana and Mangrol of Surat district, into the Surat Urban Development Authority (SUDA) is being seen as a murky move in which the politician-builder-bureaucrat syndicate would make huge real estate gains to the tune of Rs 38,000 crore.
While the move, undertaken without consulting the affected villagers, is claimed to have been made under the pretext that in the year 2035 the population of Surat would touch 1.10 crore, the proposed expansion – and this significant – is three times the present area of Surat, which accommodates a population of 45 lakh (2011 Census).
On studying plans, maps and land use calculations, it has come to light that the DP-2035, published on May 10 this year, has proposed an industrial corridor within it. People with their innate common sense can see and feel the mal-intentioned planning: They feel that it is nothing less than a well-planned land grab.
According to villagers, small industrial units in the present city are spread over almost 800 acres of land (about 324 hectares). The politician-builder-bureaucrat syndicate eyes this 800 acres of land, which is now the prime real estate.
Under the pretext of decongestion and reducing pollution, the authorities are proposing to shift industrial units to the newly-planned 1.25-2 km wide and 37 km long industrial corridor, near Pinjarat and Tena villages.
For this, 1,500 hectares (ha) of Pinjarat village and 800 ha of Tena village is going to be taken away from the farmers with the aim of relocating small industrial units as also industrial units from the nearby Hazira industrial area.
A calculation suggests that the 800 acres of prime real estate, after moving the industrial units, would be available to builder-politician- bureaucrat syndicate for more than Rs 38,000 crore. After all, 800 acres would mean 38,27,200 sq yards, and the present market of the area is Rs 1 lakh per sq yard.
Even a novice can understand where this money would go and whose development this is.
As a by-product of this development, a realization has dawned on the villagers. A bridge on the creek near village Tena is now nearing completion. The people of the village thought that the bridge was being built for them, to cut the travel time from their village to the city.
Now with the plan of relocation of the industrial units is out in the open, they find that it is not for them. While it may help them, it is actually to motivate the industries to relocate to the new area.
There is yet another story doing the rounds among the villagers. The Adani Group has built a port in Hazira, and now needs to connect it with national highway No 8 and the Delhi-Mumbai rail line. The Gujarat government, always willing to help industries in general and Adani in particular, tried to impose Hazira Special Investment Region (SIR) on farmers of 36 villages of Olpad and Kamrej taluka.
However, The SIR had to be canceled due to stiff resistance from the agrarian community, enjoying prosperity through rich agriculture and animal husbandry.
The Adani Group then tried, though unsuccessfully, to get the public sector undertaking (PSU) Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals (GSFC) rail track on rent/lease. Having failed, it tried to purchase land from the farmers for laying the rail track. It was again unsuccessful. Hence, the final game plan, to everyone’s benefit, was introduced: the SUDA DP-2035.
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*Secretary, Khedut Samaj - Gujarat

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