The Urban Development and Urban Housing Department of the Gujarat government, on Wednesday, notified the inclusion of seven villages, on the outskirts of Vadodara city, under the jurisdiction of the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC). The villages of Bhayli, Vemali, Sevasi, Bil, Karodiya, Undera and Vadadla have been incorporated into the city limits, despite a stiff opposition from the panchayats. Four panchayats have also filed petitions in the Gujarat High Court (HC) against the government decision.
The protesting villages include Bhayli, Bil, Karodiya and Sevasi whose petition in the HC is slated for hearing on June 26. Their panchayats have prayed that the decision of the government to include the seven villages in the city limits of Vadodara is not as per the provisions of the Provincial Municipal Corporation Act.
Sarpanch of Bil, Jay Bhatt said, “The decision is against the interest of the villagers. The rules say that a village can be included in the city limits once the population exceeds 10,000. The population of Bil, for instance, is 5,200 as per 2011 census and a projected population currently is about 8,500. The government has said that about 80% of the village is non-agricultural, but that is not the fact. Only 20% of the village is non-agricultural. We have argued in out petition that the VMC has not been able to even provide basic amenities to the villages that it acquired in its last expansions, like Kapurai and Chhani. Why do they want more villages?”
The petitioners said that the government is eyeing the land for commercial purposes as Town Planning schemes will allow for them to sell off the lands to developers and earn revenue. “VMC is strapped for cash and doesn’t have the resources to develop more villages. It is struggling to maintain the city in its present size. This is only a way to eventually benefit the real estate business,” Bhatt said.
The government notification means that the panchayats in the villages will stand dissolved. The notification, however, specifies that the land belonging to the state government and the panchayat will not be vested in the custody of the VMC yet.
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