PIL raises a stink over Patan solar park

The land of dalits, tribals and people from backward classes were purchased at lower prices by associates of BJP MLAs and ministers and the same was subsequently acquired by the state government for a solar park coming up in Charnka village of Patan district at thrice these rates, a public interest litigation has alleged while seeking an independent probe.

A division bench of Gujarat High Court has issued notices to the respondents in the PIL moved by a Congress leader from Patan, Farsu Goklani, and kept it for further hearing after Diwali vacation.

According to the petitioner, the state government had acquired 2,456 hectares of lands for the first phase of its solar park in Charnka village of Patan district at the rate of Rs 6.90 lakh per acre.

The petition says the state government had issued a resolution related to the project on April 27, 2010 and issued a notification to acquire land in the area on May 25, 2011. Of the total land acquired by the state government, about 43 parcels were purchased between April 27, 2010 and May 25, 2011 by people from places like Surat who had no apparent reasons to do so, the PIL says, adding most of the sellers were poor agriculturists belonging to the scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and backward classes.

Goklani also alleged that during the acquisition process, the authorities had not followed a tender process.

"In fact, most of the people who received the compensation are close aides of MLAs or ministers in the state government," the petition alleges.

The petitioner has also alleged these land deals were also illegal under the provisions of the Bombay Land Revenue Code and that Patan district collector had also objected to the same. Under these the provisions, dalits cannot sell their land without the collector's permission, which was not taken.

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