Skip to main content

Opposition to land acquisition in Gujarat picks up, with JAAG expanding its wings towards Dholera SIR

By Our Representative
Movement against “indiscriminate” acquisition of land for industrial use has come to Ahmedabad’s footsteps. Jameen Adhikar Andolan Gujarat (JAAG), the state body which led a campaign against Mandal-Becharaji special investment region (SIR) in North Gujarat, forcing the Gujarat government to remove 36 of the 44 villages from the SIR area, held its first meeting to give vent to “people’s anger” against the formation of Gujarat’s biggest SIR – in Dholera region in Ahmedabad district.
At a well-attended meeting at village Bawaliari decided to hold several protest rallies against the SIR, including a motorbike rally, which would go around all the 22 villages encompassed in Dholera SIR.
JAAG statement said, “The farmers in the Dholera SIR area, spread over 920 sq km, also want to save their farmlands, pasturelands and wastelands. They contacted the activists of JAAG seeking support in their struggle. Consequently, a meeting of the people of the area was called on December 18, 2013, in village Bawaliari. The meeting saw the presence of leaders from various villages and activists numbering around 250.”
The statement quoted leader of Bawaliari village, Pradyumansinh Chudasama, as telling the meeting that the government’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report for Dholera SIR had included in the SIR area “the submerged village of Mandvipura, where a recreation zone has been planned”. Expressing surprise over this, he underlined, there were “numerous such examples to prove that the report prepared by the government had no connection with the actual condition on the ground, it was false and misleading and prepared with people sitting in offices.”
Another instance Chudasama cited was the allotment of the final plot for agriculture which has been, for the last about a decade, lying “submerged under seawater.” Worse, he added, “there are resolutions and government resolutions (GRs) seeking to impose betterment taxes”, which was in sharp contrast to the earlier promise that the land would be developed at no cost to them. “This was grossly unjust and that the farmers’ pleas had gone unheeded”, he declared, calling for a strong resistance to this “injustice.”
Participating in the meeting, former finance minister of Gujarat Sanat Mehta, called upon the farmers to fight the government on this issue. He recalled his struggle to get the Narmada waters to the Bhal region, but said, “The present government is going all out to decommand the area from the Narmada command area.”
Yet another participant, former MLA from Mahua and the president of Gujarat Khedut Samaj, Dr Kanubhai Kalsariya, pledged full support to the movement and called upon the people of Dholera region area to “put their differences aside and put up a united fight to save their lands”, JAAG said.
JAAG leader Lalji Desai focussed on “consolidating the organisational strength” of the farmers’ body, while senior activist Rajnibhai Dave talked about “alternative development paradigm”. Yet another activist, Anand Mazgaonkar outlined the important issues to be borne in mind during the Environmental Public Hearing, to be held on January 3, 2014, in Dholera, and the “machinations of the government and officials.”
Another JAAG leader Sagar Rabari outlined the various provisions of the SIR Act, the newly enacted irrigation and drainage Act, and how these new legal instruments were actually anti-people. “He called for a strong organisational response to this”, JAAG said. Among other activists who participated the meeting were Raju Deepti, Swati Desai, Persis Ginwalla, Deepti Raju, Micheal Mazgoankar, Sonal Mehta, Mahesh Parmar, Krishnakant, Rohit Prajapati, Lakhan Musafir, and others.
Taking strong exception to the manner in which the government was seeking to sell/lease pastureland, wasteland and other common property resources in the state, the JAAG statement said, “The Government of Gujarat brought out the Special Investment Region Act in 2009 (with provisions of Town Planning taken from the Gujarat Town Planning and Urban Development Act, 1973) to give in to the ever-increasing greed of the corporate lobby.”
It insisted, “This will facilitate releasing nearly 50 per cent of land holdings of private land owners/farmers without any compensation whatsoever. The farmers in the Mandal-Bechraji SIR area fought against this machination of the government and the government had to bow to the people’s wishes.”

Comments

TRENDING

Whistle-blowing IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt's wife suspects foul play after truck hits her car

By Nachiketa Desai*
Paranoia has seized Shweta Bhatt, wife of suspended Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Sanjiv Bhatt, after the car she was driving was rammed in broad day light. According to Shweta Bhatt, it was beacon light-flashing truck without registration number plate. The incident took place on January 7, just a day ahead of the Gujarat High Court was scheduled to take up the bail application of Sanjiv Bhatt, arrested last year for "involvement" in a 23-year-old case.

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

Morari Bapu, who has installed new statues of Ram, Laxman, Hanuman without weapons

By Sandeep Pandey*
A saint is one who can give some inner peace by his/her voice. This will happen only when s(he) will talk about love and harmony. Morari Bapu is one saint who has been conveying the message of love, peace, harmony, fraternity, etc. Today when a number of saffron clad figures with aggressive posture, spewing venom, fanning hatred to polarise voters are at the forefront of politics of Hindutva it is a relief to see Morari Bapu in a different mould.

99% MGNREGA funds "exhausted", Govt of India makes no additional sanctions: Study

Counterview Desk
A letter, addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and prepared by senior activists led by Aruna Roy on behalf of the Peoples’ Action for Employment Guarantee (PAEG), and signed, among others, by 80 members of Parliament, has regretted that, despite repeated public statements by his government promising employment and job creation that will boost the country’s growth, the country’s only employment guarantee programme, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), “is being systematically undermined.”

Nuclear reactors sought from French giant "not safe": Letter to Modi on Jaitapur project

Counterview Desk
Amidst reports that the French nuclear giant EDF has submitted a “techno-commercial offer” for the world’s largest nuclear power park proposed in Maharashtra’s Jaitapur nuclear power park in Jaitapur on the Maharashtra coast, Dr EAS Sarma, India’s former Union Secretary in the Minister of Power, and an eminent voice in the civil society, has written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who also heads Department of Atomic Energy (DAE),  protesting the move.

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Rejoinder: Worldwide anxiety post-Fukishima is fading, slowly and steadily

By Dr KS Parthasarathy* 
EAS Sarma, former Secretary, Government of India (GoI) in a letter addressed to the Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), GoI, stated that, there has been "worldwide anxiety about the consequences of catastrophic nuclear accidents, either due to manual lapses or natural calamities" (Counterview, December 2, 2018). "In the recent years, globally, the pace of growth of nuclear power has escalated in leaps and bounds, causing a great deal of public concern and apprehension."

Kerala land being acquired using "draconian, anti-people" National Highway Act, 1956

Counterview Desk
In a letter Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan, senior activists and politicians have insisted that the Kerala government should not agree to "inhuman displacement and buid-operate-transfer (BOT) Toll system", imposed by the Government of India and the National Highway Authority of India, for widening the current National Highway (NH) 66.

Kaiga NPP expansion: Karnataka to get just 400 MW, but lose thick forest, fresh water

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to the chairman and members of the Atomic energy Commission (AEC) on the issue of Kaiga nuclear power plant (NPP) expansion plan in Karnataka, Shankar Sharma, well-known power policy analyst, has argued that that in case of expansion, the site will face “exponential increase in radiation emission risks”, underlining, “Nuclear safety experts identify such a scenario as enhanced risk for NPPs with multiple reactors and shared technical facilities."
Sharma says the questions that also be asked whether Karnataka should lose more than 54 hectares of thick forests and about 152,304 cubic meters of fresh water per day from Kali river for a meager benefit of 400 MW from the Kaiga NPP, for which “there are many benign alternative options available for the state at much lower overall costs to the state.”
Text of the letter: This has reference to the public hearing under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Rule 2006 of Ministry of Environment, Fore…

Uttarakhand High Court: Biodiversity boards can impose fees on Ramdev's Divya Pharmacy

By Mridhu Tandon
In a significant decision, the Uttarakhand High Court on December 21, 2018 has dismissed the writ petition filed by Divya Pharmacy founded by Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balakrishnan, challenging the demand of the Uttarakhand Biodiversity Board (UBB) imposing fees under the provisions of the Fair and Equitable Benefit Sharing (FEBS).