Just off the state highway SH-6 that links Gujarat’s biggest city Ahmedabad to Bhavnagar, about 100 km away, along an unobtrusive turn to the left, the road leads to Sareshalpara village. This quiet cluster of small mud-houses with orange-tiled roofs lies bang in the middle of what is to be Gujarat’s first-ever Special Investment Region (SIR). Sareshalpara is one of the 22 villages the state government has included in the 920 sq km Dholera SIR—it’s 10 km from the eponymous village. This is the area earmarked for Gujarat’s first ‘smart city’.
On a day when Union finance minister Arun Jaitley announced an outlay of Rs 7,060 crore for smart cities to be built across India in the budget, villagers in Dholera were preparing to file a plea in the Gujarat High Court to cancel the entire Dholera SIR proposal. This, after a long agitation against the government’s smart city proposal failed to ensure a review from the state machinery.