The Gujarat government has proposed to allot commercial plots at a token price of Re 1 to over 800 farmers who had lost 2,054 hectares of farmland to industrial development in Sanand between 2009-12. Sanand, which sprang into prominence after Tata Motors’ Nano car project was shifted to Gujarat from West Bengal, has been the epicentre of anti-government protests in the past. Congress leaders like Alpesh Thakor have held agitations demanding jobs for the youth in the region and shutting down of the Tata Motors car plant. In the recently concluded Assembly elections, the joblessness among the youths in the area had become an election issue with Congress president Rahul Gandhi attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his “Gujarat model”.
“We have earmarked 855 commercial plots within the Sanand GIDC-II, which will be allotted to land-losing farmers of Hirapur, Charal and Bol villages. From these villages, over 2,054 hectares land were acquired for industrial development, few years ago. These developed commercial plots will be offered a token price of Re 1. This is a first-of-its kind initiative in the country to compensate farmers,” said Chintan Akhani, Director (notified area) of the state-run Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) on Friday.
“A total of 298 plots have been earmarked near Hirapur village, 194 plots near Charal and 366 plots near Bol. They can use these plots to set up their small business like small shops or godowns or any other business they would like to,” Akhani added.
With Saturday being the last day for submitting applications, over 700 farmers from these three villages have already submitted their applications to the GIDC.
“In the past, residents of these villages had made several representations, seeking alternate employment. Many farmers survive on the interest of the money they get from selling land. Such farmers and their future generations face an issue of employment and livelihood,” said B C Warli, Superintending Engineer of GIDC.
“Earlier, farmers were given priority to take up a plot within the GIDC. But we found that farmers who usually lost their land were not able to purchase plots. So, we came out with a policy to take care of their livelihood and decided to offer them commercial plots,” added Warli.
The commercial plots, measuring between 70 to 1,500 square metres, will be allotted to the farmers in the next six months after their applications are scrutinised, he added.
Though GIDC officials claimed that they had paid the “highest price” of Rs 1,200 per sq m for acquired land, villagers were unhappy as they could not get jobs in the Sanand GIDC.