Thursday, March 13, 2014

Modi govt enabled Gujarat's Adani group to prosper by giving away land dirt cheap: Forbes Asia

Fish catch affected because of industrial
development near Mundra
By Our Representative
The world’s powerful business journal, Forbes Asia, in its latest issue (March 24, 2014), in an article titled “Doing Big Business in Modi's Gujarat”, has accused the Narendra Modi government of handing over Gujarat’s Adani Group cheap land, on which it “has built his cash cow – the country’s private port by volume, as well as a 4,620-megawatt coal-fired power plant.” Adani has, says the journal, “over the years, leased 7,350 hectares–much of which he got from 2005 onward from the government in Mundra in the Gulf of Kutch in Gujarat.”
To substantiate its point, Forbes Asia said, the journal “has copies of the agreements that show Adani got the 30-year, renewable leases for as little as one US cent a square meter (the rate maxed out at 45 cents a square meter). He in turn has sublet this land to other companies, including state-owned Indian Oil Co., for as much as $11 a square meter. Between 2005 and 2007 at least 1,200 hectares of grazing land was taken away from villagers.”
Worse, the Forbes Asia said, Adani was handed over grazing land. “Under Indian law land meant for grazing cattle can be used for something else only if it’s in excess. There’s a formula applied to calculate. Even then the village chief has to give permission to take the land. Villagers in Adani’s SEZ say their grazing land was signed away by earlier village chiefs without their knowledge. They have filed multiple cases in the Gujarat High Court to contest the government’s actions, going back to 2005 and even earlier. Several cases are still pending”, it said.
Written by Megha Bahree, Forbes Asia commentator, the article says, all this has been made possible because of Adani’s closeness to Modi. “None of the other companies in Kutch, or the rest of Gujarat for that matter, have received the kind of largesse on land rates as Adani”, it says, adding, the region where Adanis have prospered was once “famous for its crops of sapodilla, a brown, fleshy fruit slightly smaller than a tennis ball, as well as dates, coconuts and castor.”
Bahree says, “Area farmers say that that’s no longer the case. Fly ash and saline water from Adani Power and a nearby Tata Power Co. Ltd. plant are spoiling the crops and making the soil less fertile, they say. For miles at a stretch the chimneys of the two power plants are visible against the horizon.” Other crops affected include cotton, millet and castor.
Denying the allegations, in an e-mailed response to questions, a spokeswoman for Adani Group said it had been “allotted government land after following all established processes and used valuations applicable at the time, ahead of subsequent improvements”, adding, “It will be completely misleading if we compare the price of the land before development and after development as an entrepreneur takes risk of investing a large amount to develop this land, and if the commercial venture fails, the consequences are only to the developer”.
Yet, the journal insists, apart from farmers, fishermen have also suffered, because of industrial development around Mundra. It reports “a 60% drop in his catch in the last few months” blaming it on the Tatas’ultra mega power plant, coming up in the vicinity. “As the plant takes in seawater, it also sucks up fish that are still small, killing them instantly”, Forbes Asia quotes fishermen’s representatives to say. “The plant releases hot water back into the sea, raising temperatures in the immediate vicinity, killing more fish and changing migratory patterns.”
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