Monday, March 10, 2014

Return land "illegally" allocated to Maruti, or face protests outside Gujarat: Hansalpur residents

By Our Representative
In a signed letter to the district collector, Ahmdabad, several villagers have said that land allotment to Maruti India Ltd in village Hansalpur has been carried out "in violation of their land rights." Wanting the district collector to order stoppage of the construction of a boundary wall around the land allocated to Maruti at a time when the matter is yet sub judice, the letter says, “We feel that a grave injustice is being done to us.” Originally given to to Maruti India Ltd, the land is being transferred to Suzuki Co Ltd for reasons which have still not been made public.
Saying that repeated attempts to protest against this were suppressed, the letter warns, “If we are not heard in Gujarat, and we are not allowed to voice our non-violent protest in the state, then we will be forced to go out of the state and raise the issue of a skewed model of development practiced by the Gujarat state.” The land in question forms part of the Mandal-Becharaji special investment region (SIR) in North Gujarat, whose area was reduced from 44 villages to just eight villages following strong protests led by Jamin Adhikar Andolan Gujarat (JAAG).
Calling construction of the wall “illegal”, the letter reminds the district collector that they were allocated the land in 1954. “The then government, had allotted this land to the maldharis, the Dalits and the Thakores of the village, who were landless (vide survey nos. 1/A/1 block no. 293) admeasuring 83-78-20 ha. The same was given for cultivation on a short-term lease”, the letter says.
The letter further says, “We have been cultivating this land ever since then and our families subsist on this, and for which we have paid all the dues that were due to us which receipts and proofs are with us. For the last few years the government has stopped taking our dues. This land was also shown in the government records till 2008 as ‘agricultural land’.”
The letter points out, “In 2008, in the process of computerisation of the land records, our land was shown as government wasteland. Till date we have not been able to know if it was a human error or a deliberate act of commission.” It adds, “The Maruti Suzuki Company had been given land in village Hansalpur. This was done without taking the affected families into confidence or initiating any talks with us.”
Saying that the “land is under litigation and the case is pending in the court of the Joint District Judge in Ahmedabad”, the letter says, “One of the issues of the agitation against the Mandal Becharaji SIR was this dispute with the Maruti Suzuki Co Ltd. On this issue, when our representatives met chief minister Narenra Modi, they raised this issue, the CM assured them that the revenue minister would be looking at this issue and if an amicable solution was not found he would intervene.”
On October 23, 2013, the villagers met the district collector and personally gave a memorandum to him but to that as well no satisfactory response was received. On the same day, the “the police refused permission to us to take out our cattle rally.” And “with no proper response from the government or administration, we again decided to take out a cattle rally on January 18, 2014 from Hansalpur to Gandhinagar which was brutally lathicharged by the police.”

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