The state government will be relocating 15 villages that were severely affected in the floods that ravaged large parts of Banaskantha and Patan districts in North Gujarat. The relocation will be done if 75 per cent of the population approve and will follow the “model of relocation” followed in Kutch post the 2001 earthquake.
Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel said that the matter was discussed at length in the cabinet meeting chaired by the Chief minister Vijay Rupani and the state government decided to give “in-principle approval” to relocate about 15 villages that are in low-lying areas of both the districts. “The villages will be relocated only if 75 per cent of the population gives consent. These villages are low-lying and were affected in a similar floods during the year 2015. They will now be moved to higher ground in nearby location,” Patel told mediapersons.
“The government will be giving the families financial support to rebuild their homes. The government will also spend on the rebuilding the government offices, schools, etc, existing in these villages,” Patel said adding that request for relocation have come from the villagers and sarpanches.
The state government has formed three committees for this process. The state level committee will be headed by the chief minister and will consist of deputy chief minister, revenue minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasma, chief secretary JN Singh and secretaries of concerned departments.
The other two are district-level committees. The one in Banaskantha will be headed by Shankar Chaudhary, the state minister for health, while committee for Patan will be headed by Dilip Thakore. “These ministers will visiting the villages and will be holding ‘gram sabhas’ and will seek the opinion of the villagers. They will also be consulted about the alternate land for relocation,” said Patel adding that the Kutch model of relocation will be followed by involving the Government of India and the NGOs in the process.
When one journalist quizzed if the villages targeted are those supporting the Congress party, Patel said, “You are a senior journalist. The government does not engage in politics in such matters.” When asked about the cost of relocation, Patel replied surveys will be conducted to draw an estimate of the cost that will entail in relocating each village. “The cost will depend on the size of the village and the population,” he said.
“If the relocation happens, then the vacated plots of land will be taken over by the state government,” Patel said adding that the government is targetting to relocate the villages on higher ground within a 10 kilometer radius of the existing villages. “We want them to be living near their farms,” he added.
On Wednesday, Gujarat chief minister visited Banaskantha district where Rs 60.5 crore of cash doles has been distributed among 11 lakh people, official sources said.