Skip to main content

Gujarat govt refuses to concede demand to denotify Bhechraji-Mandal SIR, farmers feel "cheated"

By Our Representative
Gujarat government has refused to accept the main demand of the Jameen Adhikar Andolan Gujarat (JAAG) for cancellation of the special investment region (SIR) notification for the Bhechraji-Mandal SIR, proposed as an industrial hub spread over 44 villages encompassing 530 sq km. A JAAG communique, following a meeting between JAAG representatives in Gandhinagar with a ministerial committee appointed by Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi to look into JAAG demands, said, "The ministers categorically refused to entertain the demand for withdrawal of the SIR notification."JAAG communique also suggested that the only "assurance" the ministers gave was the continue farming for the next three or four years, till SIR starts being implemented. Till that point, the area would be remain agricultural zone. JAAG made it clear that the "proposition is not acceptable to the movement and the people." Sources added, as for the demand to completely repeal the SIR Act, promulgated in 2009, another JAAG demand, the ministers flatly refused to entertain it altogether.
The SIR Act gives special powers to convert the entire SIR into a notified area, with a special authority having powers to overrule any decisions of local self-governing bodies. The Act, in fact, empowers the authority in such a way that it need not consult panchayats or gram sabhas before acquiring any piece of land for industrial use. This was the main reason why people 44 villages came together to begin protesting against the SIR Act in general and the Bhechraji-Mandal SIR in particular.
In view of "adamant" attitude of the Gujarat government, JAAG decided to hold next round of planning. It will "share the news and analysis with the people and to plan for the future on August 2, 2013 at village Vasna at 3 pm", the communique said. Significantly, Modi during his meeting with JAAG leaders on July 10, 2013, has assured that the demands of the people would be "respected". JAAG representatives were given the impression that Modi was talking in the context of withdrawal of the SIR notification.
Following the meeting, the Gujarat government constituted a four-member ministerial team to look into all the aspects of the proposed SIR and take a decision by August 15. The committee comprised of finance minister Nitin Patel, revenue minister Anandiben Patel, energy minister Saurabh Patel and education minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama, and it was made known to the protesting farmers that decision on Bhechraji-Mandal SIR would "not be taken in haste." However, things have moved the other way, and farmers are feeling "cheated", local leaders said.
Observers felt, Modi's main idea was to buy time so that the farmers' agitation became weak. He moved in to intervene after farmers of 44 villages continuously protested against the state government's decision to go ahead with the implementation of the SIR in the region. Farmers were expressing the fear that about 50,880 hectares of land would be diverted for industrial use. State government knew -- stakes were high. The new Maruti car plant is proposed in this region, at Hansalpur village on Viramgam -Becharaji highway.
Though farmers were not immediately opposing Maruti’s 640-acre plant at Hansalpur, they were against the idea of their fertile land being acquired for development of an industrial hub. Among their main demands was not to decommand the area which came under the Narmada command area. The state government had already moved to decommand a huge portion of the of the area from the Narmada command area, 2,922.68 hectares (ha) in Mandal and Detroj talukas in Ahmedabad district, and more was to follow. 

Comments

TRENDING

132 Gujarat citizens, including IIM-A faculty, others declare solidarity with Kashmiris

Counterview Desk
A week after it was floated, 132 activists, academics, students, artists and other concerned citizens of Gujarat, backed by 118 living in different parts of India and the world, have signed a "solidarity letter" supporting the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), who, it claims, have been silenced and held captive in their own land. The signatories include faculty members and scholars of the prestigious Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A).

Bharat Ratna nominee ‘joined hands’ with British masters to 'crush' Quit India

By Shamsul Islam*
The Quit India Movement (QIM), also known as ‘August Kranti' (August Revolution), was a nation-wide Civil Disobedience Movement for which a call was given on August 7, 1942 by the Bombay session of the All-India Congress Committee. It was to begin on August 9 as per Gandhi's call to 'Do or Die' in his Quit India speech delivered in Bombay at the Gowalia Tank Maidan on August 8. Since then August 9 is celebrated as August Kranti Divas.

Ceramic worker dies: 20,000 workers in Thangadh, Gujarat, 'risk' deadly silicosis

By Our Representative
Even as the country was busy preparing for the Janmashtami festival on Saturday, Hareshbhai, a 46-year-old ceramic worker from suffering from the fatal lung disease silicosis, passed away. He worked in a ceramic unit in Thangadh in Surendranagar district of Gujarat from 2000 to 2016.
Hareshbhai was diagnosed with the disease by the GCS Medical College, Naroda Road, Ahmedabad in 2014. He was found to be suffering from progressive massive fibrosis. He is left behind by his wife Rekha sister and two sons Deepak (18) and Umesh (12),
The death of Hareshbhai, says Jagdish Patel of the health rights group Peoples Training and Research Centre (PTRC), suggests that silicosis, an occupational disease, can be prevented but not cured, and the Factory Act has sufficient provisions to prevent this.
According to Patel, the pottery industry in the industrial town of Thangadh has evolved for a long time and locals as well as migrant workers are employed here. There are abou…

Gujarat's incomplete canals: Narmada dam filled up, yet benefits 'won't reach' farmers

By Our Representative
Even as the Gujarat government is making all out efforts to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river up to the full reservoir level (FRL), a senior farmer rights leader has said the huge reservoir, as of today, remains a “mirage for the farmers of Gujarat”.
In a statement, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that though the dam’s reservoir is being filled up, the canal network remains complete. Quoting latest government figures, he says, meanwhile, the command area of the dam has been reduced from 18,45,000 hectares (ha) to 17,92,000 ha.
“According to the website of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, which was last updated on Friday, while the main canal, of 458 km long, has been completed, 144 km of ranch canals out of the proposed length of 2731 km remain incomplete.
Then, as against the targeted 4,569 km distributaries, 4,347 km have been constructed, suggesting work for 222 km is still pending. And of the 15,670 km of minor canal…

Cess for Gujarat construction workers: Spending less than 10%; no 'direct help' to beneficiaries

By Our Representative
While the Gujarat government’s Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board, set up in 2004, as of March 31, 2019, has collected a total cess of Rs 2,097.62 crore from the the builders, it has spent less than 10% -- Rs 197.17 crore. And, as on May 31, 2019, the total cess collection has reached Rs 2,583.16 crore, said a statement issued by Bandhkam Majur Sagathan general secretary Vipul Pandya.
Pointing out that just about 6.5 lakh out of 20 lakh workers have been registered under the board, Pandya said, vis-à-vis other states, Gujarat ranks No 13th in the amount spent on the welfare of the construction workers, while 11th in the amount collected.
And while the builders are obliged to pay just about 1% of the total cost of their project, the calculation of the cess is flawed: It is Rs 3,000 per square yard; accordingly, Rs 30 per square yard is collected. “Had the cess been collected on the real construction cost, it would have been at least Rs 7,000 cr…