Land for Bullet train: 7 times hike in jantri rates proposed

The Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project requires land in 28 villages of Surat district. (Representational Image)

Facing a tough time acquiring agricultural land for the National High Speed Rail (bullet train) Project, Surat District Collector Dhaval Patel has sent a proposal to the state government to increase the jantri rates (base price for market value set by the government), by seven times for agricultural land in in eight villages of Surat district that are required for the bullet train project.

The Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project requires land in 28 villages of Surat district. Farmers of these villages, under the banner of Khedut Samaj, Gujarat, protested and refused to give up their land for the dream project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, citing low jantri rates. The farmers did not allow land acquisition officers to measure the agricultural land that was to be acquired, resulting in a stalemate for the past one year. The jantri rates were last revised in 2011 in these parts and therefore stand at an upper limit of Rs 100 per sq metre, which the farmers have complained was low.

“In 2011, the jantri rates of these villages were Rs 100 or less (per square metre), so we checked with the jantri rates of neighbouring villages and have taken into consideration the highest jantri rates of neighbouring villages (to calculate the hike) and have sent a proposal to the state government to increase the jantri rates of all the eight villages up to Rs 708 per square metre,” Collector Dhaval Patel told The Indian Express. “There are 150 farmers whose agricultural land is to be acquired for the bullet train project in these eight villages.”

Over 130 affected farmers from four villages, Kudsad, Kamamali, Katodara, and Mudad in Olpad taluka have made a representation to BJP MLA Mukesh Patel of Olpad constituency of Surat district, and requested him to talk to the government and increase the jantri rates, a few months ago.

MLA Mukesh Patel found that the existing jantri rates were not viable for the affected farmers, and made representations to Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and Revenue Minister Kaushik Patel, requesting a hike. Following the representation, the state government directed the Surat Collector to see whether the jantri rates should be increased or not and by how much. Collector Dhaval Patel then called a meeting with officials of the land records department and other departments concerned and, after a discussion, sent the proposal to raise jantri rates by seven times solely for the land to be acquired for bullet train project.

The eight villages in Surat district that will benefit if the new jantri rates come into effect are Ghaludi and Shaikhpur in Kamrej taluka; Kudsad, Kathodara, Kimamali and Mudad in Olpad taluka and Kunvarda and Hathuran in Mangrol taluka.

“In the earlier case, those farmers who had agreed to give their land for the bullet train project were given 52 per cent more than the jantri rates of 2011 census of their land,” Leader of Khedut Samaj, Gujarat, Jayesh Patel said. “Now in this case, a new formula has come up. For a single project why different formulas are being applied? At present, it is difficult to say anything.”

MLA Mukesh Patel said, “We are hopeful that the state government will act positively on the collector’s proposal to revise jantri rates to compensate the farmers for land falling in bullet train corridor.”