As skyscrapers are turning into an ordinary sight in the Ahmedabad city, squatters are sitting on more than 28 lakh square metres of land. At the average market price of around Rs 25,000 a sq m, land valued at Rs 7,000 crore is in illegal possession. As per rule, an individual can own only a certain quantity of land. The additional goes to the government for development rationale and to offer cheap housing to the poor. However, in these circumstances, the obtained land has been encroached upon.
Under the Urban Land Ceiling Act (ULCA) of 1976, the authorities received 56,67,721 sq m of surplus portions of land in the city till 1999 when the act was repealed. Out of this, 2,45,691 sq m was returned to the respective owners after they won a court battle. The remaining land portions were used to provide housing to the poor. Earlier, a plot of 25 sq m was given to people below poverty line (BPL).
Later, the rest of the pieces were passed on to Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) and Gujarat Housing Board (GHB) to construct houses for the lesser class. For this 11,71,927 sq m was given to GHB whilst 3,51,900 sq m land was granted to AMC for resettling the riverfront residents. However, the recent land survey number 586 in the collector's office indicates that despite development, more than 50 percent of the received land is still in unlawful possession.
Portions of land measuring 28,69,914 sq m are still possessed by the owners, or there are structures on the Ahmedabad properties. About two months ago, Gujarat High court questioned the worried officers as to why the portions of land had been still encroached upon and why they had no longer been offered to the urban poor. Following it, the Collectorate prepared a record of encroachers under the Land Revenues Code (LRC) of 1879.
The survey was conducted by the Patwari and the surveyor who verified the encroachments in the six city Taluka: Ghatlodia, Sabarmati, Vejalpur, Maninagar, Asarwa and Narol and Daskroi. Land survey quantity 175 recognized 4,689 encroachers, and they had been served with legal notices.
Many prime residences in the metropolis have been known as encroached in the inquiry. These include Mangalmurti elaborate, Jinmangal Society, Vallabh Row houses in Bodakdev, Neha Park in Jodhpur, Indira Nagar and Navsad rental in Vejalpur. Officials claim that many of these residences were bought by city bigwigs in the title of their kin. Owners of Triveni Bungalow, additionally noted as Sanghvi No Bungalow, in Bodakdev are among the many who have received a legal notice.
Most of the flats had been built on 1,719 square metres of land that was acquired below ULCA. Nonetheless, since these or part of these are government residences, notices have been issued. "We have asked them to vacate the properties immediately. Soon we will start demolishing the illegal structures and fence the areas. Grant has already been sanctioned for this," mentioned additional Resident Deputy Collector R R Thakkar. Interestingly, many of these occupants have refused to accept the notice. "When we go to serve the notice they refuse to accept it and say they never got it. So, we paste the notice on their entrance and take signatures of the witnesses," said R k Patel, Bodakdev talati.