Skip to main content

Dholera 'inundated': Gujarat govt tries selling low lying area as top smart city site

Counterview Desk
Even as the Dholera Special Investment Region Regional Development Authority (DSIRDA) of the Gujarat government was busy organising a junket for Gujarat-based journalists for the area sought to be sold as an ideal special investment region (SIR) for industrialists, well-known farmers' activist Sagar Rabari has wondered why no investor has so far agreed to put in money in an area situated in Ahmedabad district along the Gulf of Khambhat.
Rabari said in a statement that not only is the area low lying, filled with monsoon waters at several spots, farmers of the Dholera region have been protesting against the SIR Act, which they say is "anti-constitional". There have been reports  that the government seeks to take away 50% of their land in the name of infrastructure development, violating the 2013 land acquisition law that requires farmers' nod and compensation equal to four times the market rate.
The statement by Rabari, who heads the Khedut Ekta Manch, comes amidst recent flooding of Dholera region because of heavy rains, preceded by renewed Government of India efforts to promote  Dholera SIR, with authorities claiming they are in a take-off mode, are ready to allot land for industrial projects, and are in talks with multiple companies keen to invest there.
Many, according to them, are "finalising plans", with announcements expected "soon". The claims have been made though six years ago similar efforts flopped, when three large infrastructure investors decided to withdraw.
The state government was not just forced to push the Rs 40,000-crore infrastructure project by Mumbai-based Hindustan Construction Company (HCC) on the back burner, a similar fate awaited two other major companies, one of Hotmail promoter Sabeer Bhatia's Nanoworks Developers Gujarat, the local entity of Bhatia's US-based company, and Greater Dholera Infracon Pvt Ltd (Kolkata), as these investors decided not to put money in land.

Rabari's statement:

The land selected for the Dholera smart city and the international airport is low lying, which emerged from the sea centuries ago. The gap between the sea level and the land level here is very small.Whenever there is heavy rainfall in the upstream and high tide in the Gulf of Khambhat, the sea does not accept rain water, so the entire area gets inundated for days.
If the authorities want to build smart city or airport here, land filling is a must, and in such a big area, this is not physically possible or economically viable. In case of a tsunami, because of its low level, a big disaster is possible, hence it is preferable to avoid such risk.
Having emerged from the ocean, there may not be sold soil or rock available to build strong foundation for building infrastructure. However, the entire area is not barren or saline, as the government claims, thanks mainly due to long periods of inundation during monsoon.
During winter, farmers grow world famous wheat known as bhaliya or chasiya ghau without any irrigation, cumin, gram and the very useful fodder juwar. And during periods of scarce of rainfall or absence of inundation, farmers grow thr local variety cotton known as deshi kapas. Farmers here do not use chemical fertilizers or pesticides, they use own seeds, so theirs is actually “organic” agriculture.
This is one of the major reasons why there is not a single case of farmer’s suicide is registered in this area because of indebtedness. Also, farmers do not want to part with their agricultural land here because it is profitable to do farming. Only a few political activists or the people who have invested to gain big bucks are trying to suggest that agriculture here is not viable, hence industrialization of the area is the only option.
The smart city authorities should explain as to why the investors who signed memorandums of understanding (MoUs) during the Vibrant Gujarat investors' summits such as HCC and Sabeer Bhatia backed out.
The SIR Act, 2009, under which the project is sought to be implemented by the government, is itself anti-constitutional. The Gujarat High Court has ordered maintenance of status quo. If the High Court or the Supreme Court nullifies the anti-constitution Act, who will bear the cost already invested in the project?
The authorities should explain to the people as to whose hard earned tax money has been spent here, or the investors (if any are still there, though according to our knowledge, as none wants to invest here). In this project, people’s money has been spent in order to attract favoured companies, and this is being showcased as development. Meanwhile, farmers are being deprived of their wealth.
We demand that the government should declare this area as “Organic Zone” if it wishes to enrich people at all. It should to ensure that farmers get market and value addition to their organic produce and their younger generation gets employment opportunity. It should shed its wrong direction, and must return to the true path of development.

Comments

TRENDING

India performs 'poorly' in Quality of Life Index, ranks 62nd out of 64 countries

Counterview Desk “Expat Insider”, which claims to be one of the world’s most extensive surveys about living and working abroad, in a survey of 20,259 participants from around the globe, has found that of the 64 destinations around the globe, has found that while Taiwan is the best destination for persons living outside their native country, closely by Vietnam and Portugal, India ranks 59th.

Human development index: India performs worse than G-20 developing countries

By Rajiv Shah A new book, “Sustainable Development in India: A Comparison with the G-20”, authored by Dr Keshab Chandra Mandal, has regretted that though India’s GDP has doubled over the last one decade, its human development indicators are worse than not just developed countries of the Group of 20 countries but also developing countries who its members.

US publication blames Gates Foundation for 'accelerating' India's healthcare crisis

By Rajiv Shah A new book, published by the New York-based Monthly Press Review (MPR), has blamed Microsoft founder Bill Gates for “crowning” the crisis allegedly engulfing India’s health sector, stating, the top American billionaire’s foundation of late has acquired “extraordinary influence" over India’s public health governance,  giving a fillip to a policy that deprives access of public healthcare facilities for majority of the country’s population.

Youngest of 16 activists jailed for sedition, Mahesh Raut 'fought' mining on tribal land

By Surabhi Agarwal, Sandeep Pandey* A compassionate human being, always popular among his friends and colleagues because of his friendly nature and human sensitivity, 33-year-old Mahesh Raut, champion of the democratic rights of the marginalised Adivasi people of Gadchiroli, Maharashtra, has been in prison for over two years now.

India's GDP down by 50%, not 23%, job loss 200 million not 122 million: Top economist

By Our Representative  One of India’s topmost economists has estimated that India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) decline was around 50%, and not 23%, as claimed by the Government of India’s top data body, National Statistical Organization (NSO). Prof Arun Kumar, who is Malcolm S Adiseshiah chair professor, Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi, said this was delivering a web policy speech, organised by the Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi.

Stan Swamy vs Arnab Goswami: Are activists fighting a losing battle? Whither justice?

By Fr Sunil Macwan SJ* It is time one raised pertinent questions over the courts denying bail to Fr Stan Swamy, who was arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), and granting it to Arnab Goswami, editor-in-chief of the Republic TV, arrested under the charge of abetting suicide of Avay Naik, who ended his life in 2018. It is travesty of justice that a human rights activist is not only denied bail but is also made to wait for weeks to hear a response to his legitimate request for a straw to drink water, while Arnab Goswami walks free.

India among heavily impacted by Covid-19, China 'notoriously' evading transparency

By NS Venkataraman* With the year 2020 inevitably ending in the next few weeks, the thought amongst the people all over the world is whether the coming year 2021 will be free of Covid-19 (often dubbed as Wuhan virus, as it known to have spread from Wuhan in China).In the early 2020, many people thought that Covid-19 would be a localized affair in China but later on, it proved to be a global pandemic.

Namaz in Mathura temple: Haridwar, Ayodhya monks seek Faisal Khan's release

By Our Representative As many as 23 members of the Hindu Voices for Peace (HVP), including the founder president of the well-known Haridwar-based Matri Sadan Ashram, Swami Shivananda Saraswati, and a one of its top monks, Brahmachari Aatmabodhanand, have expressed their “dismay” over the arrest of Khudai Khidmatdar chief Faisal Khan and three others on charges of “promoting enmity between religions” and “defiling a place of worship” after they offered namaz in Mathura’s Nand Baba temple premises on October 29.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

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.