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Ahead of a crucial meeting, JAAG wants govt to answer queries on land acquisition in Bhechraji-Mandal SIR

By Our Representative
Ahead of a crucial meeting with a Gujarat government representative, a statement issued by the Jamin Adhikar Aandolan Gujarat (JAAG), signed by Sagar Rabari and Laljibhai Desai, has warned the Gujarat government it is “unhappy with government’s lies on the issue of Mandal-Becharaji special investment region (SIR)". Wanting the government to answer JAAG's several of the queries, a meeting of the Campaign Committee of the Mandal-Becharaji SIR at village Vanod, suggested that the people would by the explanation by the government that no land was being acquired.
"The attendance of nearly 500 people for this meeting was testimony of the people’s anger at the project”, the statement said. After detailed discussions and debates some important decisions were arrived at in this meeting. The programme of June 7 to present memorandum to ministers and secretaries of the revenue, panchayat and industries departments in Gandhinagar was postponed to June 11 in view of their absence from the state Secretariat. The meeting was further postponed as a SIR representative decided to to take villagers' affidavits at a village in the area.
At the same time, the statement said, a decision was to “fight for the cancellation of both the SIR and the Maruti-Suzuki project.” It was also decided that “in the event of any one being canceled, the people would fight till both were withdrawn.” The statement of the government spokesperson was discussed which further aggravated the people. People felt that “if the government really wished well for them then the SIR project should be canceled.”
The statement said: “We know what is best for us and our development. If the government wishes to be transparent then it should answer the following questions:
* Will 40 per cent of our land be acquired for the SIR project?
* If we want to continue pursuing our occupation i.e. farming/agriculture in any zone in the project area, will we be able to do so?
* Will our gauchars, padtars (wastelands) i.e. the village commons remain as is?
* What are the plans of the government to ensure that the local youth get employment in the industries coming up in SIR?
* Have the gram panchayats, gram sabhas and the farmers’ committees got approval as the committees to be appointed under the provisions of the SIR Act? If industries can be given representation then why not the people whose lands are being snatched away?
* If the SIR project does fructify will the gram panchayat have any jurisdiction outside of the gamtal? Who will have jurisdiction – SIR authority or the gram panchayat and gram sabha?
* What provisions have been made in the SIR project for the maldharis and the landless persons?
* If the local people do not wish to become a part of the government’s project, does the government have the right to force them to accept the same? If so, under which law?
* Is the government the owner water, forests, land, and other natural resources or is its role of safe-keeping them on behalf of the people? Are the various judgments of the Supreme Court on this issue binding on the government or not?
* This area falls under the Narmada Canal command area. If the SIR project does materialise and industries come up here, will the area be removed from the command area? If so, then what is the government’s plan for those that wish to continue with farming and agriculture?

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