One of the resorts off Ahmedabad: Representative image
By Our Representative In a typical case of how Gujarat’s real estate developers bypass existing laws to become farmers to quietly buy up prime agricultural land dirt cheap, a top builder, known to have developed sprawling residential townships, resorts and golf clubs off Ahmedabad for the rich and powerful, including politicians and bureaucrats, officially became the successor of an OBC farmer to illegally acquire real estate property.
On becoming a ‘farmer’, the builder, whose surname is Shah, and belongs to a dominant caste, bought up more than 70 hectares of land at 32 different locations at several prime locations of Ahmedabad district, between the proposed Dholera Special Investment Region (SIR) and the new industrial hub of Sanand, which became famous after Tata Nano shifted from West Bengal to Gujarat.
Bringing the builder’s case in light on the basis of official documents, Congress spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil told media in Ahmedabad, “Bypassing all laws, this builder, who happens to be close to top ruling BJP politicians, became the inheritor of a farmer, thus becoming ‘legally’ liable to buy up agricultural land without needing to pay any taxes, and all in cash.”
Claiming that the current price of different plots of land which this builder, known to be one of top organizers of Gujarat’s Vibrant Gujarat world business summits, bought up is around Rs 2,000 crore, Gohil said, he became a ‘farmer’ in 1997 by obtaining the hereditary certificate from the agriculturist, who belonged to Mehmedabad in Kheda district, situated about 20 km off Ahmedabad. Documents handed over by Gohil show that the district collector, Kheda, had asked the district police chief in his letter dated March 20, 2015, to start criminal proceedings against the builder for coming up with false hereditary certificate of a farmer in order to buy up agricultural land.
The district collector’s letter said, based on a complaint by one Samirsinh Chhatrasinh Vaghela, the district land vigilance committee has found that Devangbhai Dineshbhai’s name was inserted as the successor of Gagaji Jamaji’s land, Survey No 92, village Gokalpura, taluka Mehmedabad, by creating a false certificate of agriculturist. An official inquiry document to prove how “forged” hereditary certificate was created shows that the surname of the farmer Parmar, and of the builder Shah, “was deliberately not jotted down.” Signed by the deputy collector, Kheda, it wondered, “How can a Shah be a successor of a Parmar?”
Earlier, on December 26, 2014, additional resident collector, Kheda, in a letter to mamlatdar, a taluka-level revenue official, said that the district land vigilance committee had used harsh words like “forgery” and “cheating” for creating false hereditary certificate for the builder. “A non-agriculturist, he has illegally became a farmer”, the letter said, seeking criminal proceedings against the builder. Alleged Gohil, “Despite a clear case of forgery and cheating, even two decades later no FIR has been registered. I do not have any proof, yet I am sure, the police did not go ahead because of pressure from the ruling BJP leaders.”
Declaring that the Congress is putting forward the scam for public scrutiny, Gohil said, the BJP rulers’ “indifference” towards a clear case of forgery and cheating is shocking. “We call upon those interested to file public interest litigation (PIL) in this case. I, as Gujarat High Court advocate, will provide all necessary assistance”, he added.
Asked why he was not filing a PIL, he said, “Political parties, as a rule, do not file PILs