Friday, September 18, 2015

Online petition wants top Modi project Dholera SIR to be cancelled, says it will harm environment

By Our Representative
Well-known farmers' leader Sagar Rabari of Jameen Adhikar Andolan has stepped up his campaign against the high profile special investment region (SIR) being planned for Dholera by acquiring 50 per cent land from the farmers of 22 villages.
Going for online champaign, he has asked concerned citizens for support, saying, the proposed Dholera SIR in south of Ahmedabad will "sacrifice" farmers of the area on the "altar of GDP and FDI".
The land is sought to be acquired under the Town Planning Act, which requires farmers to part with 50% of their land in the name developing infrastructure for the proposed Dholera city. Farmers have been served notice and are keeping their fingers crossed on what may happen next. Even the Land Acquisition Act, 2013 is not being applied on the region.
The online petition, the copy of which will be sent to Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel, apart from senior officials responsible for delivering the SIR, says that the SIR needs to be cancelled for saving "villagers, environment and organic agriculture".
Prepared on behalf of Dholera farmers, the petition says, "The Government of Gujarat (GoG) announced the DSIR in 2009. We have since lost our peace of mind, tense as we are about losing lands, livelihoods, environment and habitat, culture, dignity, self-reliance, indeed very existence."
Pointing towards geography of the SIR, the petition says, "This project is spread over 22 revenue villages and 16 other major and minor human settlements and agglomerations and spans an area of 920 sq km. The SIR area is ringed on the north by the Gulf of Khambhat. The boundary of Bawaliyari revenue village is ringed in the north by a 20 km stretch of the coast. The coast has been receding since the last 70 years and sea ingress has been on the rise."
Pointing towards environmental danger faced by the region, it says, "In the last 50 years the sea ingress has claimed over 10 km of the land mass. The Gulf of Khambhat records a daily tide of 11 meters and a very strong sea current. Most of the rivers running across Saurashtra and going through Botad, Ahmedabad, and Surendranagar are filled in monsoon and flow through the SIR area to meet the sea."
The situation particularly becomes grim in the monsoon, the petition says, when the "rain water and the sea water together make this area water logged. This characteristic, besides the black and soft clay and the fact that the area is a mere one foot above sea level makes this a coastal zone."
The petition points out, to te Velavadar black buck (Kaliyar) sanctuary and national park "situated at a distance of 200 meters from the village Bawaliyari", saying, "The revenue land of the whole of Bawaliyari and 5 other villages falls within the 10 km radius (considered eco-sensitive zone) of the Velavadar sanctuary. The black buck (Kaliyar) is an extremely shy animal and is listed as a protected animal by the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972."
Suggesting harm the SIR would do to wild life, the petition says, "Velavadar National Park hosts the world's largest harrier roost - Montagu's Harrier, Pallid Harrier and Marsh Harrier can be seen in large numbers, while Hen Harrier is occasionally spotted in the winter. The dense grassland of the area sees the arrival of the Lesser Florican birds for breeding in the monsoon, and which is a highly endangered species included in Schedule 1 (of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972)."
The petition goes on: "Other animal, bird and insect species like the harrier, the crane, Wolves, Houbara bustard, Hyenas with foxes, jackals and Jungle Cats as also wild pigs, hares and rodents. Among the avifauna family, Sandgrouse and larks are seen in fair numbers. According to Roger Clarke, the British harrier-expert, the harrier roost found at the park is one of the largest in the world."
"In short, this area is rich with natural biodiversity", the petition says, adding, "The impact of a world-class city with ‘world-class infrastructure’ and dense human population and the attendant pollution (air, water, noise) on the fragile ecology of the area, its flora and fauna can be only imagined. An industrial township in such a fragile zone will cause irreparable damage to this area and its ecology."
Coming to the likely impact of the SIR on the local people, the petition says, "The SIR has an aim of generating jobs and bringing ‘development’ to us. But if the project deprives us of our livelihood, our land, our dignity, of what use is it to us? We do not want to lose our land and become part of the unorganised sector labour force with no guarantees of an assured income. In such a case, our families and our children and their future will be severely jeopardised."
Pointing out that farmers are used to "pursuing rain-fed agriculture for generations", the petition says, "The wheat that is produced is the world-famous variety called ‘Bhalia ghaun’ (Bhalia wheat), cumin, gram and cotton crop. Urbanisation and industrialisation will ruin our agriculture."
The petition continues, "We are told that all this is for our own good, that the SIR will bring educational institutions, quality health care, good roads, water, transport facilities at our doorstep. But we ask: are we not entitled to these anyways? Are these not our rights? Do we not have the right to choose our means and mode of livelihood? Do we not have a say in the direction and indeed the very definition, of ‘development’? Is development the prerogative of only the urban areas?"
The petition further wonders, "How does our impoverishment (and that is certain) serve the ‘national interest’? Can any amount of FDI justify the destruction of organic farming, precious marine life, the endangered flora and animal life in the Velavadar sanctuary?"
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Link for the online petition: Click HERE

1 comment:

ila joshi said...

this is a kind of development which is forced upon the people. nothing works unless and until it is coming within the people and from the people. let them find their own solution empower them.