Fate of 6 lakh people hangs in balance as VMC announces TP scheme at Manjalpur

Residents, who purchased their properties from individual buyers 45 years ago, are agitated and ready to fight for their properties.

By: Express News Service | Vadodara | Updated: June 27, 2014 9:18 am
On Thursday, thousands of anxious residents will join a protest march from this area to the VMC office. (Source: Bhupendra Rana) On Thursday, thousands of anxious residents will join a protest march from this area to the VMC office. (Source: Express photo by Bhupendra Rana)

The fate of at least 30,000 families — 6 lakh people — at Manjalpur hangs in balance after the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) announced to implement a Town Planning (TP) scheme in an area of approximately 11.70 lakh sq meters (117.01 hectares). Residents, who purchased their properties from individual buyers 45 years ago, are agitated and ready to fight for their properties.

According to officials, several years back the said land was reserved for a Gujarat government housing scheme project. However, the project was never realised. According to rules, the notification for the scheme lapsed after 10 years. But the government did not reverse the notification officially. According to officials, during this time, the Gujarat Housing Board (GHB) got shut. It was later revived by Narendra Modi during his tenure as the chief minister. During this time, the individual land owners of these areas, mostly farmers, sold off the land to willing buyers. Families say they have been residing here for over four decades. Today, most houses are raised up to be at least two-storey and house roughly families of five each.

V M Mali, a resident of the area, says, “The VMC has sent notice of the TP scheme’s implementation to the original owners of the land, from whom we purchased homes. This is ridiculous because they are very well aware that the lands have been sold several years ago. We are paying all hefty VMC taxes, including property tax, drainage tax and water tax and other utility bills. How come the VMC collects all these taxes from us if we are not supposed to be here?”

Residents said that on Monday, a group of officers of the VMC had arrived to explain their plan of developing the area. Rajkamal Solanki, another resident, says, “The implementation will leave us homeless. We have spent several years building these houses and we are not illegal slum-dwellers. In lieu of our land, they are offering us a one-room kitchen apartment in under-construction housing projects in distant areas that are almost inaccessible from the city.”

Corporator Chinnam Gandhi has rallied around the residents in this matter. Gandhi says that the idea of implementing the TP scheme is politically motivated and the Mayor has been  ill-advised as the government notification on the land lapsed many years ago. Gandhi says that the decision is not even in line with the rules of TP Scheme implementation. “First of all, a TP scheme can be implemented in an open area of more than 550 hectares. Here, on almost 85% land, homes have been constructed and are standing for several years. Secondly, a TP Scheme needs to have provision for a hospital, public spaces, schools and gardens apart from the commercial use or selling off the land for redevelopment. Last and most important, what provisions have been made to relocate these residents and is the compensation commensurate with what will be taken away from them? This is a thoughtless decision,” Gandhi says.  Gandhi had opposed the proposal that was passed in the General Board of the VMC on March 13, 2013.

Town Development Officer (TDO) Alpesh Majumdar says, “We addressed the owners meeting on the day the intention to implement the TP scheme was declared on June 19. Some VMC land is also occupied by unauthorised people. The people are being misguided about the TP scheme as there is no immediate demolition happening. The entire process will take time to be implemented and it is not always that it is implemented in its entirety the way it is planned.” On Thursday, thousands of anxious residents will join a protest march from this area to the VMC office.

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  1. D
    Drrkd Goel
    Jun 30, 2014 at 2:18 pm
    In GHB land no TP scheme can be made as per Law of Land of a Board / University etc. The GHB become defunct in 2002 to 2013. Read also report of The then Collector, Mr. Anil Mikim IAS in 1999 about GHB? in SCA # 3426 of 1998 PUCL Vs State of Gujarat and others.
    Reply
    1. D
      Drrkd Goel
      Jun 30, 2014 at 2:22 pm
      Now these families will remain in mental tortures like CoCoCola Building of Mumbai till the result is finalized by the Government. Now these families will loss their sleep.of uncertainties of their houses.
      Reply
      1. D
        Dr Mrs
        Jul 2, 2014 at 2:49 am
        Before demolishing these buildings the Court must investigate as to how these structures have come up. These buildings were not constructed in a day. The field officers of Munil Corporations were sleeping during the construction of these illegal colonies.The responsible officers concerning the illegal construction should be thrown out of job before the evacuation of these buildings. The hard earned money of the occupants is going as waste. May be the GHB was defunct in 2002, but these constructions are prior to the dilution of GHB. The officers of GHB prior to 2002 are responsible for this illegal construction. After the dilution of GHB this land became no man's land. The families residing in such areas are not at fault. The officers in Government Department engaged in monitoring the illegal construction are really responsible for such constructions.
        Reply