Residents of Vadnagar in the Mehsana district of Gujarat have challenged the state government’s decision to acquire their land for a buffer zone to preserve some of the city’s architectural structures in the high court where a large-scale excavation project is underway.
Eleven families from Vadnagar, the hometown of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, have asked the Gujarat high court to cancel the government’s notification allowing the purchase of land without conducting a social impact assessment (SEA) study for the buffer zone to be are created for the maintenance of architectural structures.
The residents filed a plea against the report last week and the case was heard Monday by a divisional bench of Chief Justice Aravind Kumar and Judge Ashutosh Shastri. The bench later postponed the hearing to March 11.
The petitioners’ counsel argued that the Archaeological Department intends to acquire plots of land with approximately 30 houses in order to create a buffer zone for the preservation of the architectural structures discovered in the city by classifying it as a “special project”.
This is happening without the SMB study, because the government considers it a special project. Section 10(a) of the state amendment to the Land Purchase Act allows the government to acquire land for such a special project without the need for an SEA, the plea said.
Affected families have lived there for the past 50 years and the proposed buffer zone is not one of those projects that would require land purchase without an SIA, counsel insisted.
The petitioners suggested that the government should consider creating a buffer zone on an empty space to the left of the excavation site in order to conserve the existing homes of the affected families.
Massive excavation works are being carried out in Vadnagar and several architectural sites have been discovered so far by the Archaeological Survey of India.
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