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Monday, January 17, 2022

Farmland for expressway: Dholera SIR CEO tenders apology in Gujarat High Court

The Gujarat HC had issued notice to DSIRDA officials, the secretaries of the industries and mines, and water resource departments, returnable on January 4. The court is scheduled to hear the matter on Tuesday.

By: Express News Service | Ahmedabad |
January 4, 2022 2:17:19 am
The court is scheduled to hear the matter on Tuesday. (File)

The chief executive officer of Dholera Special Investment Region Development Authority (DSIRDA) tendered an “unconditional and unreserved apology” to the Gujarat High Court in response to a contempt plea by farmers’ association Gujarat Khedut Samaj and six other agriculturists from Dholera against providing private farmlands for the construction of an expressway despite an earlier HC order directing to maintain status quo.

The Gujarat HC had issued notice to DSIRDA officials, the secretaries of the industries and mines, and water resource departments, returnable on January 4. The court is scheduled to hear the matter on Tuesday.

According to the petitioners, the expressway from Bhavnagar to Ahmedabad via Dholera SIR will pass through “a couple of villages and the private land of respective farmers” in the villages of Bavaliyari, Sandhera, Sodhi and Gandhipura, and the petitioners alleged that neither the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) that is constructing the expressway nor the DSIRDA has acquired land from the farmers in accordance with law. They also said no compensation been paid under the National Highways Act, 1956 or the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. It was the petitioners’ contention that in light of a public interest litigation in 2014, the HC had, in December 2015, passed an order, directing for status quo for the acquisition of farmlands, which was extended from time to time.

The petitioners, represented by advocate Anand Yagnik, had sought the court to take notice of the “wilful, deliberate and intentional contempt of court committed by the respondents by not complying with the order” and to direct the respondent authorities “not to allow construction of road/expressway on the private land of the applicants in view of the order of status quo”.

Hareet Shukla, chief executive officer of DSIRDA, in his reply affidavit dated January 3 stated, that “there has never been any intention, much less wilful or deliberate either on my part or on the part of any officers of the department to disobey or flout” the court’s earlier issued direction of status quo and tendered an “unconditional” apology.

It was also submitted in Shukla’s affidavit that compensation amounts in respect of 79 survey numbers out of 99 survey numbers in one town planning (TP) scheme have already been paid to the respective land owners and those who have been paid compensation have surrendered their respective lands.

In another TP scheme, compensation amounts were paid to 72 survey numbers of the total 83 survey numbers. With over 80 percent land surrendered in each of the two TP schemes, both were sanctioned. Of the two town planning schemes, one was not handed over to NHAI and thus status quo remains, stated Shukla’s affidavit.

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