Gujarat farmers vow to protect their land

Residents of over 104 villages in five talukas — Olpad, Choryasi, Makrej, Palsana and Mangrol — in Surat district, South Gujarat, are up in arms against the move to bring their villages under the Surat Urban Development Authority (SUDA), which is preparing a master development plan 2035.

The government has proposed an industrial corridor and townships because these villages are in the periphery of the Diamond city, Surat, whose population is likely to touch 11 million by 2035, from 4.5 million according to the 2011 census.

However, the villagers, mostly farmers, fear that they would lose their farmlands if the villages are brought under the purview of the local urban development authority.

Highly fertile lands

“More than one lakh hectares of agriculture land in these 104 villages is being sought to be appropriated by the authorities. This land is highly fertile and we cultivate2-3 crops like paddy, vegetables, sugarcane and banana,” said Jayesh Patel, a local resident and activist of the Gujarat Farmers’ Society.

The farmers have challenged the government’s move in the High Court, which is slated to take up the petition for hearing on Monday.

“The notification was issued without either consulting the local panchayat members or even elected representatives of the area. Villagers are not ready to give up their fertile lands for an industrial corridor,” said a BJP lawmaker who did not want to be named.

According to sources, the government wants to create a new industrial corridor to shift the existing small industrial units located within the city. “Some politically connected builders in connivance with a section of local politicians and bureaucrats have come up with this idea,” said a senior bureaucrat who had earlier served in Surat.

They have challenged move to bring their villages under Surat Urban Development Authority

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