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In poll-bound Gujarat’s Udhna, a residential society with 8,000 voters has shown the door to campaigners

Residents of Vijayanagar society have long been demanding clean water, cheaper electricity and registration of the land under non-agriculture category, instead of the possession slips that they have been issued, but to no avail.

The Vijaynagar society, which has 700 plots mostly occupied by joint families, comprises people from Maharashtra who settled in Gujarat in 1985 and continue to work as labourers in Surat’s textile and diamond markets.(Express Photo by Chitral Khambhati)

A residential society in Gujarat’s Surat district has put up banners opposing the entry of political parties seeking votes in the run-up to the Assembly elections in the state. Around 8,000 voters reside in Udhna’s Vijayanagar society which has erected the banners at its gates.

The large society, which has 700 plots mostly occupied by joint families, comprises people from Maharashtra who settled in Gujarat in 1985 and continue to work as labourers in Surat’s textile and diamond markets. In fact, Udhna is one of the most populated areas in Surat. According to the residents, they have been demanding clean water, cheaper electricity and, most importantly, registration of the land under non-agriculture category, instead of the present kabja rasid or possession slip that has been issued to the residents.

The promise for registration of the land was made in 2016 during the tenure of the Vijay Rupani government as the BJP leader was on a visit to the Udhna area. Residents complain that the local BJP MLA Vivek Patel or corporators do not visit their constituency and are unaware of their issues.

In fact, the BJP has not given a ticket to Vivek Patel to contest this time around and has fielded Manubhai Patel instead. While Dhansukhbhai Rajput is in the fray for the Congress, Mahendrabhai Patil will contest for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Udhna will vote during phase-1 of the polls on December 1, while the results will be declared on December 8.

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Besides their worries regarding registration of the land, the residents have alleged that the drainage lines in the area are faulty and water from gutters came out of freshwater taps for three to four months this year. “Our situation was very bad. The water was so dirty that even children fell sick. Children suffered from diarrhoea and vomiting; my grandchild fell ill,” said Manjuben Bichue, a resident.

“When there is an election, all of them come to ask for votes. They come in groups and say ‘vote for me’. But no one comes to improve our situation,” said Babyben Patil, who has been a resident of Vijayanagar society for 35 years.

Yogesh Patil, 33, who was born in this society, says, “Our society should be registered, it should be accepted as NA (non-agriculture land). The officials whom we approach for registration give verbal agreements and assurances, but the work remains incomplete so far.”

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President of Vijayanagar society Raosaheb Girase said, “One of the first promises given to our society was that it would be registered, because they have only given possession slips for 75 per cent of the land in our area. Since it is not registered, plots do not have valuation… The valuation of our property with a possession slip is from Rs 35,000-40,000 to a lakh. A middle-class family, which wants to develop their house, has to take money on interest,” he pointed out.

The society members are now adamant that they want a written agreement pertaining to the fulfilment of their demands if representatives of any party wish to campaign in the area.

First published on: 11-11-2022 at 18:21 IST
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