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Gujarat govt rejects farmers' plea to return 566 sq km land "reserved" for Ahmedabad urbanization, to protest on Sept 8

Nitin Patel
By Our Representative
The Gujarat government has rejected the demand of the agitating farmers of 68 villages, seeking to cancel the crucial 2009 notification, which has allegedly reserved 566.35 sq km of agricultural area in the outskirts of Ahmedabad for urban development.
Gujarat's deputy chief minister Nitin Patel, rejecting the demand, told their representatives that they were being instigated by the Congress for electoral gains in view of the upcoming Gujarat state assembly elections scheduled for December.
Farmers' representatives belonging to several non-political organizations, including the Khedut Samaj Gujarat and the OBC-Dalit Ekta Manch, met Patel, who had called them to Sachivalaya on Tuesday.
Deepsinh Thakore, who was one of the leading participants, said, "The deputy chief minister used abusive language for our leaders, telling us that we were being misguided by them, calling them all Congress agents. He went so far as to use casteist language."
While top leaders of the two organizations, Sagar Rabari and Alpesh Thakore, did not go to meet the deputy chief minister, representatives of farmers belonging to individual villages, including sarpanches, some of them belonging to the BJP, were called to discuss the tangled issue, agitating them for the last few years.
A letter handed over by the farmers' representatives to the deputy chief minister, addressed to chief minister Vijay Rupani, said that despite the lapse of eight years, the Gujarat government has done "nothing" for the urban development of the region, even as taking away the farmers' right over their land.
"Even the Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority (AUDA) has recognised that till 2021, looking to the density of population of the area, just about 84 sq km area would be needed for urban development. Hence it is difficult to understand as to why the state government wants to transfer 566.35 sq km of farmers' land for urban development", the letter reads.
Talking with newsperons, Sagar Rabari said, "Under the 2009 notification, the farmers would have to part with 40% of their agricultural land for urban development. Further, 90% of the common village land would would be reserved for AUDA."
He added, "Worse, farmers have been deprived of freely selling their land for non-agricultural purposes. These restrictions have made farmers angry. They have decided to take out a tractor rally to Gandhinagar on September 8 starting from the outskirts of Ahmedabad. We have sought permission, but the rally will be held, even if the permission is not given."
Alpesh Thakore, about whom rumours have been floating around that he may join BJP, said, "We will not tolerate the abusive language used by the deputy chief minister. He must apologize for this. It seems he is frustrated, he wouldn't win from his constituency during the coming polls. We hope the chief minister takes a more balanced view."
Asked whether he was planning to join BJP, Thakore, who claims to have considerable following among the numerically strong OBC Thakore community, said, "Lots of rumours are floating around. My doors are open. You will get an answer to this question shortly."

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