Skip to main content

JAAG rally warns government against forcible acquisition of land in Bhechraji-Mandal special investment region

Rally at Gandhinagar
By Our Representative
The Jamin Adhikar Andolan Gujarat (JAAG) -- which on June 18 led a well-attended farmers’ rally starting in North Gujarat’s Bhechraji region, and ending at the state capital Gandhinagar after passing through Sanand town and Ahmedabad city -- has warned the Gujarat government against any attempt to forcibly acquire 50,885 hectares of land in order to set up special investment region (SIR) in the region. In a memorandum submitted to state revenue minister Anandiben Patel, JAAG has said, “Bhechraji-Mandal SIR notification dated May 14 is in our hand. The map of the notification suggests that more than one lakh people of 44 villages of four talukas will be adversely affected because of SIR. We are not going to take it lying down.”
“It is the same area which is waiting for Narmada waters for long”, the memorandum said, adding, “During elections, we were promised this land would be turned into a green belt. However, what we are now being offered is an industrial empire, with resultant pollution. Prospects of better agriculture have been pushed to the backdrop. There was no consultation with the villagers, yet the maps which we have seen suggests that our only means of livelihood, agriculture, would be taken away.”
The government tried unsuccessfully to stall the rally to Gandhinagar. Unprecedented police arrangements were made since the night of June 17. Leaders were made to go from one office to another, one block to another to secure permission for the rally route. Despite all of this, people assembled by 8 am on June 18 and the rally commenced from village Vithlapur village at 8.30 am. There were 500 tractors, 50-60 motorcycles, 10 mini-trucks and 50 four wheelers. On the entire rally route one could hear slogans like “Tell SIR, no Sir”, “Remove SIR, save agriculture”, “The village land belongs to the village, not to the government” and “We will give up our lives, nor our land”. The government also tried to enforce a change in the rally route but seeing the turnout of the people and their anger, they let the rally pass.
The rally converged in Gandhinagar, and well-known activist Raju Purohit, former BJP leader Kanubhai Kalsariya, former Finance Minister Sanat Mehta, academician Y. K. Alagh, Jayesh Patel of Olpad anti-SIR movement, Lalji Desai and Rajni Dave of Bhumiputra addressed it. Noted Gandhians Narayan Desai and Chunibhai Vaidya sent letters of support.
The region in the eye of storm has attracted a star investment of India’s largest passenger car manufacturer Maruti Suzuki India, parking its car plant at village Hansalpur in Mandal taluka. The view is quite strong among local villagers and the NGOs who are leading the action against SIR that the land allotted to Maruti is revenue land on paper but in reality it is the land under cultivation and grazing land accessed by livestock of neighbouring six villages. Clearly, the SIR may affect the pastoralists adversely.
The root of the problem began when the Gujarat government, through a notification dated September 24, 2012, declared the area of 44 villages of Ahmedabad, Surendranagar and Mehsana districts as the Mandal-Behcharaji SIR. The geographical area of this region measures 50884.8362 hectares (approximately 500 sq km) in total. area.
Suspicion among the villagers about the government plan particularly went deep, as SIR notification was issued despite the fact that it is mandatory for the to inform the Gram Panchayats regarding the implications of SIR and Gram Panchayats should respond to this notification within a stipulated time. However, while the Mandal-Becharaji SIR was put on fast-track, neither the Gram Panchayats nor the residents of the 44 villages of this region were informed about SIR.
In April, one of the local NGOs came to know about the notification. The implications of this notification on the area (44 directly affected and other neighbouring villages) were discussed with local community based organisations (CBOs), other NGOs, activists and like-minded individuals. This made it necessary to start local action immediately.
A meeting was held on May 6-7 at Gopnaad village, near Bechraji, to further deliberate on the situation. Representatives of tribals, farmers, pastoralists, fishermen, women, and children among others participated. The NGOs who took a call were Gujarat Sarvodaya Mandal, Janpath, Working Group on Women Land Ownership, Jamin Bachao Andolan, Meethi Virdi Andolan, Olpad Andolan, Gujarat Khedut Samaaj, Bhumi Bachao Andolan, Machimar Sangharsh Samiti, Maldhari Jan Andolan, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, Paryavaran Mitra, and Ekta Parishad. The sarpanches and residents of these villages expressed their willingness to fight against the proposed SIR.
A consensus emerged to continue fight for the rights and to hold the government accountable. It was recognized that such a fight would need a bigger platform and a sustained action. Thus emerged a state level coalition – Jamin Adhikar Andolan Gujarat (JAAG).
An intense awareness-creation process was undertaken in each village. Meetings were held with communities and the implications of SIR were discussed. Then came the second notification on May 14. The map of SIR was put up in Vithlapur village, at the SIR office. This added fuel to fire. People started realizing the seriousness of the issue.
All 44 villages have been divided into nine clusters (Vanpedi, Hansalpur, Varmor, Nayakpur, Detroj, Vichhan, Sitapur, Vanod and Valevda). On an average each cluster covers five villages. Meetings have been held in all nine clusters and 36 villages started preparations for a broader movement. Gram Samitis (village committees) were established. One after the other village signed resolutions stating their opposition to giving away their land to the SIR.
Milk cooperative societies and ginning cooperative societies passed resolutions opposing SIR. Efforts were on to ensure that similar resolutions were passed by block and district panchayats. There was a general consensus that the resistance was going to be apolitical; support of different political parties would be sought on the issue, but they would not be given any space in the public platform.
Thousands of families signed affidavits against giving away their Landless families and maldharis (pastoralists) also gave affidavit against giving away their pasture lands, which are common property resource on which they depend and survive. The residents of the villages put up white boards with red ink barring government officials or corporate agencies from entering the villages for any work regarding SIR. Anti-SIR slogans were written on the common walls of the village.
===
Watch a video clip of the JAAG rally by clicking HERE

Comments

TRENDING

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Don't agree on domestic subsidies, ensure food security at WTO meet: Farmer leaders

Counterview Desk  The Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (ICCFM), a top network of farmers’ organizations in India, in a letter to Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry, has asked him to “safeguard food security and sovereignty, even as ensuring peasants' rights" at the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO MC 13), to take place from 26 to 29 February 2024 in Abu Dhabi.

Sharp 61-85% fall in Tech startup funding in India's top 'business-friendly' States

By Rajiv Shah Funding in Tech startups in top business-friendly Indian states has witnessed a major fall, a data intelligence platform for private market research has said in a series of reports it has released this month. Analysing Tech startup data of Telangana, Maharashtra, Delhi NCR, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, Tracxn Technologies Ltd , the Bengaluru-based research firm, finds that except for Kerala, funding witnessed a fall of anywhere between 61% and 85%.

Students, lawyers, professors detained in Delhi for demonstrating in support of farmers

By Our Representative  About 25 protestors, belonging to the civil rights network, Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), a coalition of over 40 organisations, were detained at Jantar Mantar for holding a demonstration in support of the farmers' stir on Friday. Those detained included students, lawyers and professors, including Prof Nandita Narain and Prof N Sachin. 

Maize, bajra, jute, banana cultivation banned off West Bengal border: Plea to NHRC

Counterview Desk  West Bengal-based human rights defender Kirity Roy, who is secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Manch, and is national convenor of the Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission, second within few days, has bought to light one more case of trespassing and destruction of a fertile banana plantation by BSF personnel along the Indo-Bangladesh border, stating, despite a written complaint to the police has taken "no initiative".

Solar energy funding dips 9% in 2023; 2024 'kicks off' with US$1 billion investment

By Lakshmitha Raj*  Solar energy tech companies have already secured slightly over US$1 billion in funding in 2024 (till Feb 7, 2024) after total funding into Solar Energy companies in India fell 9% to US$1.55B in 2023 from US$1.7B in 2022. A total of 39 $100M+ rounds have been closed till date, with Delhi leading the city-wise funding, followed by Gurugram and Mumbai.

India second best place to invest, next to UAE, yet there is 'lacks support' for IT services

By Sreevas Sahasranamam, Aileen Ionescu-Somers*  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the best place in the world to start a new business, according to the latest annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey. The Arab nation is number one for the third year in a row thanks to a big push by the government into cutting-edge technology in its efforts to diversify away from oil.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Mahanadi delta: Aggressive construction in flood plains, reduced fish stock, pollution

By Sudhansu R Das  Frequent natural calamities, unemployment, low farmers’ income, increase in crime rate and lack of quality human resources to strike a balance between growth and environment etc. continue to haunt the state. The state should delve into the root causes of poverty, unemployment and natural calamities.