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More than 200 structures have been razed so far in the Gandhvi fishing harbor near the famous Harsiddhi temple in Dwarka’s Devbhumi district as the state government’s demolition drive continued for the second day on Sunday, authorities said.
The district administration had started the mega demolition drive at the fishing harbor in Kalyanpur taluka on Saturday, about two weeks after the Gujarat High Court disposed of a petition. As many as 69 fishermen from Gandhvi and 122 from neighboring Navadra had petitioned the HC seeking regularization of their homes built on government land after Devbhumi Dwarka revenue officials served them notices in January asking them to vacate the building and knock them down.
In the notices, the government had said that the houses were encroachments on government land.
Sources in the revenue department said that 102 structures were demolished in Gandhvi on Saturday and thus encroachment was removed from 3.70 lakh square feet (sq ft) of land. On Sunday, 137 more structures were razed, clearing another 5.10 square feet of land. “The majority of the structures have been demolished
including residential properties, a few commercial establishments and a handful of religious structures as well,” said an official.
These unauthorized structures were built on government land known as Harshad Bandar or Harshad Harshad in the Mendha creek near the shrine of goddess Harsiddhi, sources said. “These houses, godowns, etc. were very much located along the sea coast and can be used as a landing place for illegal smuggling like narcotics,” said the Devbhumi Dwarka SP.
“Police deployment continues to forestall any untoward incident,” Nitish Pandey, Superintendent of Police (SP), of Devbhumi Dwarka told The Indian Express, adding, “Around 800 police personnel, including two companies of the SRP (state reserve police) are stationed in the harbour.”
This is the second major demolition operation along the Devbhumi Dwarka coast in about three months.
In October last year, the government carried out a major demolition drive and damaged several hundred structures in Bet Dwarka, an island off the coast of Okha where Dwarkadhish Mukhya Mandir, the shrine of Lord Krishna, is located.
Gandhvi has a population of about 3000, mostly fishermen. In their petition to the HC, the fishermen had sought a direction to the state government to regularize their homes under a circular of 1981 by the state government which provides for “gamtal” to fishermen living in huts along the coast the sea.
However, after the state government argued that the structures were a threat to national security and cited two letters from the Additional Director General of Police (Intelligence), the petitioner submitted in court that it did not want to press its case for regularization. their structures.
The HC disposed of the matter after the government assured that the affected families will be rehabilitated in accordance with the existing policies of the government, paving the way for the demolition.