Mar 15, 2016, 05.46 PM | Source: PTI
Farmers of 22 villages in Dholera taluka have called for the scrapping of the Special Investment Region (SIR) planned there and decided to hold a protest rally to press their demand.
Under the banner of Akhil Bhartiya Koli Samaj (ABKS), the Gujarat chapter of which is headed by Congress leader and former MP Kunvarji Bavaliya, the farmers will hold a rally at Dholera on April 24 demanding denotification of Dholera SIR.
Nearly one lakh farmers are expected to participate in the protest, organisers claimed.
"The Dholera SIR covers 920sq.km of land which includes agricultural land belonging to farmers in 22 villages. The Gujarat SIR Act of 2009 provides power to the state government to acquire land from farmers without due compensation, and we are protesting against that," Bavaliya told reporters here.
He claimed that under the Act, the state government acquires half of a farmer's land for free and then sells it to the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) at a much higher price.
The Act also empowers the government to acquire the remaining land belonging to the farmer by offering negligible compensation, he further said.
"Farmers are not getting compensation for their land that was acquired for the SIR. We have no objection to selling the land to a private party with mutually agreed compensation, but we do not want any government interference," said Sagar Rabari, president of Gujarat Khedut Samaj, which will join the protest.
"But under the Act, government acquires land without offering any compensation and then sells it off to private parties at a much higher price, which is a policy that goes against the farmers. The government sold its own land falling under the region to the SIR authority for Rs 20 per square metre. The authority in turn sold the same piece of land to the SPV for Rs 600 per square metre," claimed Rabari.
Calls against the Act were issued after the state government declared the region an "SIR area" through a notification in 2009, he said, adding that the protest is now being intensified.
The Land Acquisition Act, 2013, does not apply to the area marked under the SIR, he said.
According to Rabari, the 920sq.km of land falling under the Dholera SIR includes government land, village habitat, forest and saline land. He alleged that agricultural land owned by farmers in the region has not been provided water from Narmada dam despite the government having promised the same.
"We also demand that the government bring the agricultural land under Narmada canal command area as farmers have to depend on monsoon for cultivation," he said.
The state government was pushed on to the backfoot in 2014 after farmers protested against land acquisition and denotified Hazira SIR, which included villages in Olpad and Chorasi talukas of Surat district.
Before that, the government was forced to denotify Mandal -Becharji SIR in North Gujarat in August, 2013.
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