Gandhidham shuts down over burning land conversion issue

Rajkot: Port town Gandhidham observed a voluntary bandh on Friday as citizens joined the chorus for expeditious implementation of converting the leasehold land into freehold, one of the major issues that has been hanging fire for the past many years.
Thousands participated in the Jan Aakrosh Rally organized by the Gandhidham Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which is once again pressurizing the Deendayal Port Trust (DPT) to sort out of the land conversion besides other issues like the high transfer free, mortgage free and others.

Nearly 75 organizations joined this march and markets, schools and colleges remained closed for the day. The rally started from Zanda Chowk and ended DPT administration office where a memorandum was submitted.

Earlier in 2008, the industry chamber had called for an indefinite strike in March and trade association has been fighting for this issue since then. The memorandum stated: “We have been patient for the past one decade in anticipation that issues raised by us will be progressively resolved in reasonable time. But unfortunately even after 10 years the issues have remained as it is.”

The association also warned of an indefinite dharna in front of port administrative building until the issue is finalized.

GCCI secretary Aashish Joshi said, “The port authority had arranged our meeting with the DPT chairman Sanjay Bhatia via video confessing and he assured us that three major issues of mortgage fees, transfer fee and conversion of industrial land into freehold will be discussed in the upcoming board meeting to be held on December 14.”

In 2014, the UPA cabinet had given an in-principle approval to convert the residential leasehold land to freehold for nearly 1,900 acre land out of total 5,000 acre land with the DPT. This land was given by then Kutch’s rulers to the refugees at the time of partition in India in 1947.

The 2,800 acre land was thereafter handed over to the Sindhi Resettlement Corporation and after the formation of Kandla Port Trust, the land was handed over to port for administration. There are 31,000 lease holders of the land with about 80% residential units.

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