Demonetisation Disaster

Prof Hemant Kumar Shah, an eminent economist  in Ahmedabad criticised #Demonetisation when it was announced 2 years ago. It’s in Gujarati so translated here.

Prof Shah said Morarji Desai demonetised currency in 1978 for the first time when economists estimated Rs 8000 crores black money were in circulation which increased to 50 lakh crores in 2016 according to Modi Govt. So Prof Shah raises a pertinent point that we reached 50 lakh crores from 8000 crores in 40 years even after demonetisation of high value currency notes of Rs 1000. That means demonetisation doesn’t curtail black money generation if that’s the intention of Govt.

Second point as an economist he makes is of consequences of demonetisation as it will affect consumption obviously as people’s buying power will severely be affected. Reduced purchasing power will affect production straight away. If production is affected then it will reduce GDP growth rate propelling the country towards recession. The country is already struggling with economic downturn. 

Another point is no country in the world would demonetise currency to tackle black money. Argentina, Philippines and Zimbabwe were the three countries which demonetised their currencies but not to control black money. They did it to control rising inflation. 

We’re being told if corruption comes down, inflation comes down and that will result in RBI repo rate reduction. But if RBI repo rate reduction is beyond a full 1 point then only it will start showing impact and increase consumption, not by a quarter or a half percent. A person won’t be driven to purchase a bike if EMI is reduced to Rs 4900 from Rs 5000. 

Another more important point is that the Govt claims Pakistan is spreading fake currency notes in our economy which will be curtailed. If you calculate this, the currency of Rs 500/1000 in circulation should be considered. Total income of the exchequer is Rs 100 lakh crores and the value of currency notes may be worth 10 lakh crores. Govt’s own figures say fake currency is worth Rs 400 crores. India’s defence budget is Rs 250,000 crores. Is the Govt admitting that Rs 250,000 crores defence spend is unable to stop Rs 400 crores fake currency infiltration crossing our borders?  Every taxpayer citizen has a right to question Govt about this.

Uncomfortable Sardar Patel Facts That Modi Ignored

Sardar Patel’s Statue of Unity will be unveiled today by PM Modi which will be the tallest statue in the world. As noted by foreign media, Sardar Patel statue is a symbol of Modi’s political ego. It’s Also a time to look at these bare facts that have been hidden behind a loud propaganda in an attempt to further accelerate a narrative of belittling Nehru by Modi & BJP.

Sardar Patel’s daughter Maniben wrote in Durga Das edited ‘Sardar Patel’s Correspondence 1945-50’ that Sardar Patel never aspired to be PM of independent India. Modi and BJP have been conveniently twisting history and spreading anti Nehru propaganda about sidelining of Sardar Patel. Fact remains that Gandhi, Nehru and Sardar’s trio worked together as a team.

Check these facts that Sardar Patel admirer Modi ignored.

Industrialist Khandelwal owned Sardar Patel’s official residence 1-2 Aurangzeb Road was never attempted to be taken over or proceedings launched to buy it and turn it in to a museum or memorial by Sardar admirer Modi and never made an effort to address legal issue attached to it. Modi Govt has Rs 3000 crores for a statue but do not have Rs 300 crores for Sardar Patel’s official residence in Delhi.

In Ahmedabad’s Shahibaugh area a Sardar Patel memorial was run by Dinsha Patel (former minister), in Karmasad Sardar memorial is run by Ashok Patel, in Rajkot by Devendra Desai and in Bardoli (Sardar’s birth place) a memorial is run by Swaraj Ashram.

Many trusts in the name of Sardar Patel are being run in Delhi too but no help is extended by Modi Govt to them.

BJP has been trumpeting about injustice to Sardar Patel but 25 years of continuous rule out of which 14 years under Modi in Gujarat has yielded an ignored and dilapidated Sardar Patel Smarak Bhavan which this handle reported just a couple of days ago. 

Dinsha Patel got sanctioned Rs 17 crores and Rs 3 crores for Karamsad memorial as grant for Shahibaugh, Ahmedabad memorial when he was a minister in Manmohan Singh Govt. 

Sardar Patel’s official Ahmedabad residence is in Bhadra area of the city where a former BJP Municipal Councillor has encroached the property by illegal construction. The same way former Gujarat CM Anandiben Patel’s daughter Anar Patel and husband Jayesh Patel encroached upon 8 properties belonging to Gandhi Ashram.

Former BJP MP TN Chaturvedi led Committee on Sardar Patel (Modi was a member of the committee) prepared a report about building a grand memorial for Sardar Patel in Delhi which has been shelved ever since. 

Till date Gujarat Govt has not provided grant for Ahmedabad’s Sardar Patel memorial. It is still being run with Rs 24 lakhs annual grant provided by Central Govt. That too has been reduced under the current Govt to Rs 15 lakhs. Rs 3.5 crores were given to Sardar Patel memorial by HD Devegowda Govt and Rs 3 crores by Manmohan Singh Govt. Dinsha Patel had requested Rs 20 crores for Ahmedabad memorial and Rs 3 crores for Karamsad memorial. Out of which Rs 17 crores were sanctioned by MMS Govt for Ahmedabad and Rs Rs 3 crores for Karamsad memorial. 

Navjivan Press Trustee Vivek Desai had donated over 300 souvenirs and memorabilia belonging to Sardar Patel which have been lying with Govt without doing any thing with them. 

Dr Verghese Kurian’s Milk Cooperative organisation too donated Rs 50 lakhs to Karamsad memorial.

Another uneasy fact for Modi is that in 1990 Chimanbhai Patel’s Janata Dal Gujarat Govt was ruling in Gujarat with BJP as ally. Following launch Ayodhya’ Ramjanma Bhumi agitation, BJP parted ways with Chimanbhai Patel’s Janata Dal Gujarat. Patel survived with Congress support. Meanwhile Narmada agitation too began in Gujarat by Medha Patkar and Baba Amte. Again Chimanbhai Patel fought against this agitation to save Narmada project and Sardar Sarovar dam. For this fight for Sardar Sarovar Chimanbhai was named ‘Chhote Sardar’ by his supporters. 

This was the time when newly built Ahmedabad airport was proposed to be named as Sardar Patel airport by Chimanbhai Patel Govt in a proposal sent to centre. BJP protested against airport named as Sardar Patel airport and counter proposed for it to be named as Shyama Prasad Mukherjee airport. Gujarat Govt of Chomanbhai Patel & Congress insisted it will be named as Sardar Patel airport only.  That’s when a young Narendra Modi and senior BJP leader (Brahmin) Ashok Bhatt went to Delhi with their demand and launched agitation. 

But IK Gujral’s Govt had Praful Patel as Civil Aviation Minister and the BJP proposal was rejected. Looking at defeated proposal and rising Patidar restlessness against BJP for opposing Sardar Patel’s name, Modi & Bhatt’s BJP withdrew agitation.

With time BJP’s ideology changed and Madhavsinh Solanki’s Congress Govt crossed wires with Patels resulting in BJP usurping Sardar Patel plank and a new political propaganda against Nehru and injustice to Sardar Patel started being vehemently pushed down throats of people which over time has replaced real history.  Today Modi has become a self appointed champion of Sardar Patel cause and a Statue of Unity is built with a hope of appeasing upset Patidars who have revolted against BJP with their reservation agitation which showed a diminished result in Gujarat elections 2017.

It needs to be seen how much Sardar Patel’s statue yields for BJP in 2019 elections.

600 Cars As Diwali Bonus To Diamond Export Firm Employees In Surat. Really? Find Out The Inside Story

Surat is fast becoming Chicago of India. No not in a positive way, but Chicago was called crime capital of USA during post WW2 industrial revolution. Likewise Surat has become centre of both blue as well as white collar crime lately.

Surat has been in the eye of a controversial storm in Rakesh Asthana shenanigans. The latest in illustrious list of funny frauds is the much publicised 600 cars in bonus to workers by a Surat businessman that even PM Modi joined via video conference and plastered all over media.

A Surat based diamond merchant Savjibhai Dholakia gave away shining new cars and flats as bonuses for Diwali to his 600 employees, mostly diamond polishers working for ‘Hare Krishna Exports’. The ceremony of giving car keys wa addressed by PM Modi by video conferencing alongside religious leaders like Morari Bapu and Ramesh Oza (Ambani family’s family Guru). All these great personalities heaped praises on Dholakia for this grand gesture towards his employees. But, turns out, the truth is something very different.

According to investigations, the employees of Hare Krishna Exports are paid their salaries under the cost to company (CTC) rule. Which means it is pre-decided that how much each employee would receive as a salary in a year. Every month, a specific amount is deducted from the salaries of employees as part of CTC under head of bonus. This lump sum amount is then paid to the automobile firm as a down payment for the car that is supposed to be ‘gifted’ to the employee. Hence, the claim that Dholakia gave away cars as bonus to his employees turned out to be half true.

As a matter of fact, all the 600 cars bought for the employees have been registered under the name of Dholakia’s firm. Those employees, who were selected to receive the cars, were made to sign a bond for a period of five years. The employees can not leave their jobs at the firm for the next five years and will also have to share the burden of at least half the monthly instalments to be paid for the cars. It is also revealed that because the firm bought these vehicles in bulk, they’ve received a discount of Rs 80,000 on each car. As all the 600 cars are registered in the firm’s name and paid the GST for it, it will receive the tax credit for the same.

Dholakia has been successfully creating an image of a generous boss who loves his workers (rings a bell about someone similar) who had no clue that the grand bonuses doled out to them is actually their own hard earned money. Even PM Modi failed to notice that the diamond trader got him to give an impetus to his (Dholakia’s) goodwill by making him address the firm’s employees. When Dholakia was asked about this. he flew into a rage and said that this is an attempt at maligning his image, while national and international media have been praising his employee welfare initiative. He further claimed that his company would be paying the full cost of the cars gifted to his employees. 

In 2017, Dholakia’s firm was slapped with a huge fine for failing to deposit the provident fund deducted from the salaries of his employees to the government. 

Have Rakesh Asthana AK Sharma fallen the eyes of Modi?

Two Gujarat cadre IPS officers Rakesh Asthana and AK Sharma are going to be interesting characters in the aftermath of CBI fireworks. Both have been Modi favourites & confidantes brought to Delhi by PMO as part of many IAS/IPS officers from Gujarat as Modi entourage. The idea behind bringing them to Delhi was solely to work for Modi targeting political opponents. Interestingly both IPS officers are now pitted against each other. After filing a favourable report for BJP Govt in Godhra 2002 riots, Rakesh Asthana got all postings where he wished whereas AK Shrmaa has been Modi’s troubleshooter and savage controller for Modi/Shah including fake encounters. 

Both Sharma and Asthana were selected by Modi/Shah duo to be taken to Delhi. 

Now Asthana has accused his own mother cadre officer Sharma of corruption. In contrast he himself is stands accused of accepting Rs 3 crore bribe. 

So now the two high profile IPS officers Asthana and Sharma who are close to PM Modi stand accused of corruption and that is extremely embarrassing for Modi. His position has become really pathetic and those who know Modi well believe firmly that Modi will not help Asthana/Sharma as soon as he manages to blow the storm over. 

The two officers will most likely be shunted back to their home Gujarat as Modi doesn’t touch bureaucrats tainted with corruption charges even with a barge pole. 

BJP all set to fool people again with ‘Ekta Yatra’ in Gujarat in the name of Statue of Unity

No other political party can fool people like BJP.

On the contrary Congress always gets trapped in BJP’s crafty politics and can’t fight back effectively taking it to opposite camp. Things are becoming clearer now as it’s shaping up as if it was one big meticulous plan. Now the BJP has shown their cards by announcing ‘Ekta Yatra’ just before unveiling of Statue of Unity by PM Modi. This has been confirmed by Gujarat BJP’s spokesman IK Jadeja.

Sardar Patel was the architect of united India convincing all small and big states & royalties to form ‘Akhand Bharat’. But as is the saying in Gujarati “Soonth na Gangade Gandhi” are dime a dozen, there’s no dearth of Chhote Sardar or Bade Sardar in modern India cashing in Sardar’s name.

Sardar Sarovar Narmada Dam was a project entirely conceptualised by Pandit Nehru and he laid the foundation stone of the entire project. The credit first claimed for it was by Gujarat CM Chiman Patel who anointed himself as the first ‘Chhote Sardar. After him whoever occupied Gujarat’s CMO automatically assumed the title of ‘Chhote Sardar’ as if they were the ones who gifted Gujarat the Narmada dam project. This has been carried on by Narendra Modi too and is still continuing to do so. 

Now a new political game has started in the name of Sardar Patel. Using the despicable rape of a girl on 29th September, a campaign against ‘Par Prantiya (migrants from outer states) was vociferously pursued driving thousands of innocent labour class people to flee for safety. The real perpetrators have been hiding behind a successful propaganda blaming Congress leader Alpesh Thakor and his Tahkor Sena. Whatever is the truth but political advantage of it is effectively harvested by BJP. 

Let’s check the story behind this. Price rise index is going beyond 5.3%, Petrol-Diesel prices are racing towards century figure, Rupee is falling faster than gravity, essential commodities like milk, vegetables are sky rocketing, farmers aren’t getting MSP, land grabbing is in full swing following Bullet Train Project and Delhi Mumbai Express Highway albeit quietly (A separate story about land grabbing is coming), mob lynching, rapes, demonetisation GST woes are the burning issues staring sternly at BJP. Vikas has been buried deep, no one talks about it. So what is left to rouse passions of fire?

Sardar Patel is back in running in a state  (Gujarat) that is the axis of Modi’s political existence. First a crafty plan of regionalism unveiled successfully. Now another shrewd slogan of “Ek Bharat, Shreshth Bharat” is unrolled to fool the public and pocket vote bank politics. 

This is already being implemented with Dy CM going to Bombay and invited Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis. CM Rupani will go to UP and invite UP CM Yogi Adityanath. Minister Saurabh Patel is to go to Bihar to invite Nitish Kumar. As planned, the ‘Ekta Yatra will be undertaken across the state dividing Gujarat in 4 zones starting from 19th October. Ekta Yatra will carry on till 29th October. 

Stage is set to fool people on a grand scale. Congress will wake up when they will. Bit, people will have to wake up before that and call this pulling wool over their eyes in time.

Vikas Gando Thayo Chhe!

Agrarian Crisis in Gujarat but Govt busy in Sardar Patel Statue Mega Show

15th September was the last day of monsoon in Gujarat. It’s been a month since then but Gujarat Govt has not yet declared drought or emergency when more than 5000 villages/towns have faced crop failure. On the contrary entire Govt machinery is fully occupied in Sardar Patel statue inauguration mega show preparation and travelling to all other states to invite and organise attendance. 

Where the Rs 3000 crore statue is located, the situation of farmers is worst there in Narmada district. Gujarat Govt has not devised agriculture policy resulting in agrarian crisis. Drought is declared in only 14 Talukas in Gujarat. 54 Talukas have seen crop failure and more than 20 districts have witnessed less than 50% rain so they too are facing situation of crop failure making the agrarian crisis grave. 

Sardar Patel had efficiently helped distressed farmers in introducing measures like waiving land revenue in drought affected areas and fought for farmers earning the title of Sardar. Today the Govt is ignorant about farmers but fully focussed on installing a statue of Sardar made in China. Kisan Kranti President Bharat Sinh Jhala said:” If Sardar had been around, he would have asked the Govt to help distressed farmers rather than wasting money in statue”.

Out of Gujarat’s 33 districts, 252 Talukas, 18,000 villages, more than 5000 villages have faced crop failure. Farmers are in crisis and urged the Govt for help. At least 10 inches of rain in 5 phases was needed for crop. Lack of which resulted in failure in light of no irrigation by state Govt. More than 2000 villages/towns need fodder in emergency which is not planned by Govt at all.

Kutch registered average 417 mm rain but more than 10 Talukas registered just 111 mm rain. Patan district in North Gujarat registered 600 mm average but 9 Talukas registered only 184 mm rain. Likewise most districts including Ahmedabad registered much below average rain that has created drought situation with more than 40% districts will face drinking water crisis in coming days with some rural areas already there.

A bundle of fodder for kettle that usually cost Rs 10 is now being sold in the market for Rs 40 or even Rs 50 already. Farmers have warned if Govt takes no timely steps then a very large number of kettle will be starved and die.

But Vijay Rupani Govt is busy with Sardar Patel statue show with ministerial teams formed to travel to other states inviting people to attend the opening. CM Vijay Rupani and senior ministers will even go for election campaigning in poll bound states ignoring own state’s crisis. After all elections are more important than governance for Modi.

Rahul Gandhi’s message of peace in Europe tour rattled BJP

Indian National Congress President Rahul Gandhi visited Berlin and London in his first official tour of Europe and addressed delegates from over 25 countries at the Bucerius Summer School in Hamburg, Germany.

He was relaxed, confident and comfortable addressing a packed venue, frankly answering all questions thrown at him as a young new leader of Gandhian values on foreign soil. It seems to have rattled the ruling party BJP in India which is evident watching spokes persons on mainstream Indian media.

Answering a question about his hug to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Indian Parliament during no confidence motion, Rahul Gandhi said that responding to hate with hate wouldn’t be a solution, since it would eventually come back with more hate and anger to society. This is the most noble and highly valued message given to us by Mahatma Gandhi, he said.

This was his generic message to world leaders as well as to those in the position of high strength in different capacities. He said, it is most important to listen to people “if we are to tackle challenges of 21st century or somewhere along the line the anger and the hate would take an ugly turn destroying the social fabric.”

“It is very dangerous in the 21st century to exclude people,” Rahul Gandhi told the audience filled with foreign nationals in Hamburg, where he was an alumnus in 2005. 

Accusing the ruling BJP in India of excluding tribals, Dalits and minorities from the development narrative, he emphasised, “If you don’t include people in your vision in the 21st century, somebody else will.” That’s the real risk of excluding a large number of people from the development process. It resonates with the policy of his party that in democracy ‘inclusive growth’ is most important. ‘Sab ka sath, sab ka vikas’ adopted by BJJP leadership indecent years!

The Congress President’s position is considered relevant in today’s tense environment for those who with some sense of political morality, seek to find intellectual understanding of the situation in the world today.

Soon after the speech, voices could be heard in the audience that Rahul Gandhi appeared to have gone beyond garlanding Mahatma Gandhi’s statue or the picture of late AB Vajpayee.

He gave an example from recent history. “In the 21st century, when the world is connected, it is very dangerous to exclude people”. When the US attacked Iraq in 2003, they introduced a law that didn’t allow one particular tribe from getting public jobs….it was easy for for the US to take down Saddam Hussein within a few months without much casualty. But, a few months later, the network that was excluded from jobs in Iraq, the Tikriti tribal network, linked up with a cellphone network and the stockpile of artilleries left in villages. What you got was an insurgency that fought the US and caused massive casualty. It didn’t stop there. But slowly entered empty spaces in Iraq, in Syria and connected with the global internet to form the horrific idea – ISIS, Gandhi said. It explains his in-depth understanding of events of political history.

This can hardly be construed as an approval of ISIS as vehemently claimed by the media spin generated by his opponents. 

It may not be out of place here to recall that a section of top Indian diplomats shares Rahul Gandhi’s vision, especially for normalising India Pakistan relations. Thus, in March earlier this year, speaking at the Lahore Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria said, “Both the countries need to shun violence and normalise relations in order to take the two-way trade to $30 billion from its present $5 billion.” He asserted that there was no better way of improving bilateral relations than mutually beneficial economic ties” underlining “Mutual relations between the two countries should be on the basis of trade & economy and violence & war should not be an option.”

Rahul Gandhi’s views were strong at Bucerius Summer School that it beggar’s belief to suggest that in this world of global connectivity, the international communities would not be aware of the situation in India. In modern times nothing can be hidden from journalists and researchers.

Gujarat’s newest scam

In this monsoon of raining scams by BJP Govt across the country, Modi’s home state Gujarat leads once again with numerous scandals. In yet another first, a new scam to cover up a previous scam is discovered. Just before monsoon arrived, Gujarat underwent a massive water scarcity. To the extent that Gujarat Govt declared in an unprecedented manner a ban on water irrigation for Kharif crop throughout the state. That resulted in water pilferage and state security was deployed at Sardar Sarovar dam and Narmada canals in a historical first to prevent theft. The pictures went viral about this. 

Now ‘Lokshahi Bachao’, an initiative launched by former BJP CM of Gujarat Suresh Mehta, noted environmentalist Mahesh Pandya and economist Hemant Shah alleged in a statement that Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani’s Sujlam Suflam Jal Sanchay Abhiyan’ was a massive programme of digging corruption. They allege that Gujarat CM lied to Niti Aayog about ‘Interlinking Rivers’. CM Vijay Rupani had promised publicly that the financial accounts of interlinking rivers will be put in public domain. But that has not happened at all. Now that rains have arrived, the entire scam will be covered up forgetting water scarcity scam. 

According to details of this scam, Gujarat Govt led by CM Vijay Rupani declared to Niti Aayog on 17th June that his Govt has interlinked 32 rivers of Gujarat under the scheme ‘Sujlam Suflam Jal Sanchay Abhiyan’ and had invited all state CMs to come and see it. But in reality, the Govt has not declared names of the rivers interlinked as per the claim anywhere. Neither any accounts have been made public as promised by the CM himself.

Now that the monsoon rains have arrived, all the rivers have new waters. But if the Jal Sanchay Abhiyan had concluded in June then why Govt didn’t declare any details then? In fact Govt massively undertook digging holes throughout the state and nothing else happened. The big question asked is CM Rupani declared on 29th April that financial accounts will be made public. Till date no such accounts have been revealed. Numerous letters to CM have had no official replies. A specific letter was answered by Additional Secretary to CMO requesting to contact Narmada Department. One month later Narmada Department has not provided any response. 

Now the allegation is that the BJP Govt had launched this entire Jal Sanchay Abhiyan to cover up another mega scam of Gujarat State Land Development Corporation. Govt had suspended the Corporation after the land scam was uncovered and transferred all their works to Narmada, Water Resources and Kalpasar departments. 

The Govt has not revealed what steps have been taken in the suspended corporation. The Chairman of the corporation is an IAS officer, then what inquiry has been done against him, is not revealed. This is a new kind of scam where an entire Govt project is eaten up by the Govt corporation’s own bureaucrats and no action has been taken even after the said corporation is suspended. This means that it’s not an individual scam but a systemic scam where even the Govt seems to be involved. 

Interestingly when ACB raided Gujarat Sate Land Development Nigam’s offices a scam in Panchmahal Khet Talavdi (Panchmahal Farming Pond) was uncovered. Rs 87,000 per pond were paid to 160 farmers aggregating to Rs 99 lakhs. The perpetrators were found to be Asst Regulator and Shahera Taluka Field Supervisor. They didn’t issue any applications for the ponds and payments have been made already. Similarly ACB found Rs 56 lakhs cash from the office of Joint Director in the land corporation. According to ACB’s confiscated computers, diaries and documents there are names of politicians and top bureaucrats which have not been revealed. 

It is no secret that a commission of 20 to 30% was the going rate for farming pond grant. The total scam of just the land development corporation touches Rs 3000 crores annually. Now the new scam of digging the same ponds deeper for water conservation was done to cover up the earlier scam of digging ponds in first place.

8000 ponds and rivers were undertaken to be dug deeper (Sujlam Suflam Jal Sanchay Yojana) by the CM Vijaya Rupani’s BJP Govt from 1st May – Gujarat Foundation Day. Without any details about the scheme, CM Rupani suddenly declared 12,000 ponds, rivers have been made deeper. No explanation about hoe the scheme was over achieved 150% (Modi Magic?) Now multiple scams are surfacing all across the state in North, South, East and West where even the dead have been found to be claimants of grants for pond multiplied by thousands. 

Instances of pond dug on 500 feet high hills, in a piece of land in forest reserve, more number of ponds on land than what shows on survey numbered lands. some even doesn’t have any agri land in this bizarre water scam. 

Gujarat’s Dumb Smart Cities – Part 2

Modi Govt will spend Rs 95,000 crores for Dholera. Out of which Rs 30,000 crores have already been approved. According to Dholera plan, 20 lakh people will be resident in the city. That means the amount Centre has agreed to spend in near future of Rs 30,000 crores will be Rs 4,75,000 per head. Equal amount will be borne by Gujarat Govt. Similar expenditure is calculated to be spent by Dholera company and private players. That totals to Rs 19,00,000 per head in Dholera infrastructure pf roads, water, sanitation, trains, airport, public utility buildings etc.

The tendency of usual overshooting of budgeted cost is not factored in yet so it’s anyone’s guess what will be the figure in the end. (3-4 fold increase) So Dholera is already the most expensive city in Gujarat even on paper where marginalised & poor or under privileged people will have no space. The current population of  22 villages acquired for the project too will not be able to dwell in the city. This when more than 30% population lives in shanties or temporary dwellings.

Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu objected that if Modi Govt approves a whopping Rs 95,000 crores for Gujarat’s Dholera smart city then why not Andhra when it needs funds for Andhra Pradesh? PM Modi once said Dholera will be 4 times bigger than Delhi and 6 times bigger than Shanghai. Question is if this mammoth expenditure is being undertaken for second capital of Gujarat then why not for capital of Andhra Pradesh or statehood for Delhi?

Gujarat Govt has declared Dholera will become a world best smart city at the cost of Rs 3000 crores. CM Vijay Rupani laid foundation stone and announced Ahmedabad and Dholera will be twin cities. An 8-lane highway will be built between the twin cities. Dholera will be presented as investment destination in 2019 Vibrant Gujarat Summit projecting it as bigger than Singapore. A 120 KM long water canal will be built in Dholera with 365 days of water in canal. The canal will feature water transport joining it with Delhi Mumbai Indutrial Corridor.

Some highlights of proposed Dholera city:

  • Rs 25,000 crore solar park
  • Rs 130 crore solid waste management system
  • Rs 400 crore IT hub
  • 920 Sq KM development
  • Rs 1734 crore roads
  • Rs 90 crore water treatment plant
  • Rs 86 crore power plant
  • Rs 6,000 crore NHAI built Ahmedabad Dholera Express Way
  • Rs 2,000 crore Dholera International Airport
  • Rs 300 crore Bhimnath Dholera Railway project

This over ambitious plans stand in stark reality of acute water shortage in Gujarat. The irony of 120 KM long water canal when the Gujarat Govt introduced no water for irrigation in current (2018) ‘Kharif’ crop season for water scarcity as more than 40% towns/villages face drinking water scarcity. Metro cities like Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajkot have already witnessed cut down in drinking water supplies to just a few hours daily.

CM Modi had announced 50 lakh new houses in 2012 assembly election manifesto which stands unfulfilled as usual.

Modi is infamous for announcing mega projects, spending crores trumpeting about them and post winning elections abandoning them. Take the case of Kalpasar project that was much hyped at the time as one of a kind in the world.

The Gujarat government spent a whopping Rs 113 crore for its ambitious project at Kalpasar but the foundation stone has not been laid yet. The government spent the huge sum on a series of feasibility reports (21 so far) that have been conducted, are still under way,  or will be done for the project. This project was conceptulised by Narendra Modi, then the chief minister of the state, with a vision to obstruct saline waters of the Arabian Sea through a 30 KM long barrage between east and West Bank of Gulf of Khambhat and collect fresh Narmada water in the same. The project also included a bridge over the gulf of Khambhat in the sea. The Rs 60,000 crore project was supposed to be completed by 2020 ready to generate 6000 MW tidal electricity on top of water reservoir connecting all major rivers in Gujarat.

Will Modi answer what happened to Kalpasar? Also what happened in 10 years after Cholera announcement? Now what will happen to Kandla?

Gujarat’s Dumb Smart Cities

Port city of Kandla in Gujarat has been declared by both the Centre & Gujarat Govts to be developed as ‘Smart City’ at the cost of Rs 1200 crores just recently in a fresh bid to revive sagging fortunes of BJP. 10 years before this announcement, Dholera in Gujarat was declared as the first smart city in entire country. Nothing has happened there yet.  Govt had announced 100 smart cities across India. 12 are in Gujarat including Modi’s favourite  GIFT city near the state capital Gandhinagar. Not one has materialised yet.

Let’s check Dholera story here, which was supposed to be the first smart city. But 10 years later it is still a landmass of salt flats. Wherever vast parcels of land are found in Gujarat, nexus of politicians (Read BJP) and businessmen acquire it using black money. Then the Govt declares smart city there. Wherever smart cities are announced, land prices skyrocket there. This way, cheaply acquired land using black money touching sky high prices yield massive returns to investors. In the process the invested black money yields multifold white profits ready to be invested in white businesses. This modus operandi is in practice for nearly 17 years increasing at a much faster pace now.

Dholera too has yielded massive returns to a handful of investors by being declared as smart city without any progressive development.  Some investors from outside Gujarat had invested big in Dholera too believing Modi’s grandiose plans/dreams, but without any returns as no smart city infrastructure has been developed. Neither are there any projects afoot of developing it as an ordinary city.

Despite this, the Govt is going ahead with another smart port city at the cost of  billions in tax payers money. This is the same land that Gujarat Govt asked to be returned from central Govt. Kandla is being touted as the country’s first industrial port city. Dholera too was declared exactly the same 10 years ago. Eerily Kandla too sounds the same as Dholera project. 1425 acres Kandla land is earmarked to be developed as city where 845 acres of industrial units and 580 acres for residential dwellings to be developed at the cost of Rs 1200 crores. The plan includes removal of salt on salt flats at the cost of Rs 168 crores. An Ahmedabad based crony company is contracted to do this.

Gujarat may jump and down for smart cities but traditionally Gujarat’s track record is abysmal on this front. Announced years ago, HCC Waterfront City, Hotmail founder  Sabir Bhatia’s Nano City, GVK’s Maritime City, Japanese Eco Cityare just some of the projects that are yet to see light of day. Valsad’s Vittal Innovation City, Okhamadhi’s Maritime City are already abandoned projects.

Various Vibrant Gujarat events claim Rs 1 lakh crores of MOUs for smart cities. Another Rs 1.5 lakh crores were pledged to be invested in smart cities. When Vadodara smart city project was declared, Congress exposed BJP’s corruption scams worth thousands of crores. Same way, this handle exposed a Rs 500 crore scam by L&T in Dholera a few months ago. In reality the scams that have been exposed are about projects over ground. Land scams are yet to be calculated to get a true picture.

2-3 years ago 3 companies were offered land for Dholera projects and they were required to deposit money for the same. The said companies didn’t make payments so the plans remained on papers only. HCC too did not reveal any details. Vittal Innovation Project of Valsad has moved to Andhra Pradesh.

Likewise Mahindra Life Space Developers Ltd too is awaiting land allocation for their World City Project. GVK’s Maritime City Project in Okhamadhi near Dwarka too is abandoned after grand announcements in Vibrant Gujarat at the time. In the end smart cities are ending up in dumb plans on paper leaving common citizens dumber and lining pockets of smart cronies.