Bullet train project: This village got award for being first to give away land
While one village gets an award- seven times market price - for being the first to give away its land, 100-year-old Vadodara market remains defiant
Chansad: Fifteen kilometres from Alkapuri town lies Chansad village. It stands out because it is one of the very few villages on the bullet train's path that have given their consent to land acquisition. Located in Padra taluka, Chansad was also the first village to seek the consent award, under which villagers got seven times the land price.
It's 5 pm when we reach Chansad, and the residents have gathered at the local kuldev temple for an evening prayer. We join in for the aarti which is being done to the beat of drums. It's a daily practice here. After 20 minutes, members of the panchayat assemble under a giant tree, located in the centre of the village which has a population of 3,500; most of them upper cast Patildars (landowners). Meeting up here and discussing matters concerning the village, they say, is a ritual.
Speaking about the bullet train project, Narendra Patel, deputy sarpanch, says, "About two years ago, we were informed about the project by some government officials. As soon as we agreed, within a few weeks the officials conducted a bhoomi pujan here. Only 65 families are sacrificing their farms for the route."
The temple where Chansad villagers assemble every evening. Pic/ Sneha Kharabe
A total of 17 hectares of Chansad farmland will be used for the project. It is said that while the main maintenance depot will be constructed at Sabarmati, the second maintenance depot will be located at Chansad. "Forty-seven landowners have consented already, and the remaining only need to sign the papers. We have verbal nods from everyone. We all have enough farmland here, so giving away a small chunk will not make a difference to us Patildars," says Patel.
The 31-year-old farmer adds that some landowners have already received compensation, him included. "We have got Rs 630 to Rs 690 per sq mt, which is almost seven times the market value. Never in the next 10 years will we get such a good price for our land where we grow cotton and mustard."
Yet, they don't see themselves taking the bullet train more than once a year. Why then give away so much land? "We are happy with what is happening and have no complaints. We believe in the prime minister and know that whatever he does will be in our best interests."
An artist's impression of the High Speed Rail Training Institute that is under construction in Alkapuri. Pic/ NHSRCL
Chansad holds significance for being the birthplace of the Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan (BAPS) spiritual head Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Interestingly, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had close associations with the Swami, who died in 2016. Modi even called him his "father" during an emotional speech that same year. "Chansad villagers are strong believers of the swami, just like our PM. It therefore doesn't come as a surprise that they [villagers] get special treatment," said activist Krishnakant Chauhan, who accompanied us to Chansad.
The consent award
In the bullet train project, those who willingly give up their land are promised 25 per cent more compensation based on the jantri rates. A jantri rate is the minimum price of land or building in a particular area. The revenue department of the Gujarat government decides the jantri depending on where the area is located.
No. of villages in Vadodara district where land will be acquired
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