‘Review Bharatmala project in Gandhinagar’, former Gujarat CM Vaghela writes to Gadkari

Former chief minister of Gujarat Shankersinh Vaghela wrote to Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday in connection with the Bharatmala project – the government’s flagship programme for national highways – and requested him to “take personal interest to review” that the GPS coordinates originally cited for land acquisition under the project in Gandhinagar be implemented so as to “save” agricultural land of farmers.

Vaghela pointed out that affected farmers have complained to him that the land acquisition GPS coordinates, as shown in original maps, were not incorporated in a gazette notification dated August 23, 2022 issued by the Ministry Of Road Transport And Highways (MoRTH). The notification had announced the government’s intent to acquire lands in Gandhinagar district for building a six or eight-lane greenfield expressway.

Vaghela said the original plan involved a straight line of coordinates, which required fewer agricultural lands to be acquired, but with the changed coordinates, the route now includes turns and results in “more land acquisition of farmers in bulk.”

Speaking to The Indian Express, Vaghela said such a change may have been because of “political, social or religious pressure” as the original map’s route coordinates involved land parcels measuring 300-400 acres under a temple’s ownership.

The representation also refers to the farmers’ agitation in Gujarat in the past “on account of agriculture-adverse policies and decisions of the government” and told Gadkari that ignoring the farmers’ pleas may trigger another stir.

The gazette notification lists survey and plot numbers, type of land (private or government), nature of land (agricultural or non-agricultural) and the area of the said land parcels. It also notes that any person interested in the said land may object to its use for the project “within twenty-one days from the date of publication of this notification in the Official Gazette”.

“Every such objection shall be made to the Competent Authority, namely, Sub Divisional Magistrate & Prant Officer, Dehgam in writing and shall set out the grounds thereof and the Competent Authority shall give the objector an opportunity of being heard… and after making further enquiry… either allow or disallow the objections,” it added.

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