Villagers run towards a car distributing leaflets announcing a furniture fair in nearby Viramgam that promises free mehendi for women, free magic show for children and free visitor gifts for couples as attractions. Smartly-dressed salesmen hound villagers marketing cars, homes and furniture. A stall at the entrance also offers car demonstrations.
Banners have sprung in the village offering vaastushastra-compliant realty schemes. The only bank a tiny branch of State Bank of India (SBI) is crammed with account holders. Khoraj village, 50 km from Ahmedabad, is on a consumerism roll.
At least 1,000 farmers in this village ceased to be agriculturists and became crorepatis, the village growing richer by over Rs 1,700 crore at the end of a land acquisition process by the Gujarat government for expanding an existing industrial estate.
At least 55 per cent of the 2,500 hectares owned by 1,000 odd farmers in this village was acquired by the Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC).
The villagers were paid Rs 1,100 for every square meter of land purchased which is some 15 km from where Tata Nano and Ford Motors have set up their car manufacturing plants in Sanand.
Some Devipujaks (a scheduled tribe) in this Kshatriya-dominated village who struggled for a square meal, also became crorepatis. Our family got about Rs 3.5 crore by selling a small land parcel that we had. We have not received our cheques yet, but we are happy, says Asha Vaghri who is a senior member of the family of 20 living in the poorest part of the village, where adult members of the family work as farm labourers for a major part of the year.
Ramesh Mori, a member of the Khoraj Gram Panchayat says that of the 2,500 hectares owned by the farmers, 1,365 hectares have been acquired by the state government. All of this land has been given to the state with the full consent of the farmers, says Mori.
A confident Rakesh Jadhav (26) who belongs to a joint family where four brothers together sold 190 bighas (1.7 bigha is equivalent to an acre) to the state government and earned over Rs 50 crore as compensation. We are planning to re-invest this money and buy land elsewhere, says Rakesh, dressed impeccably in a blue check-shirt and tight jeans, proudly describing himself as tenth fail.
The SBI branch has seen business rise ten-fold in the last one month. In comparison to Rs 8-10 lakh