Skip to main content

Mystery around "missing" 52,000 acres deepens as Gujarat's bhoodan committee declares it has no land

By Rajiv Shah
Six months after the Gujarat High Court judgment sharply criticizing the state government and the Gujarat Sarvodaya Mandal (GSM), also known as Bhoodan Samiti, for failing to oversee what happened to thousands of acres of land received during the Bhoodan movement of Vinoba Bhave, a top GSM insider has declared that as of today it has “no land.”
Participating in a well-attended civil activists’ meet in Ahmedabad at Janpath, the apex body of Gujarat-based NGOs, Anand Mazgaonkar, who is closely associated with the top environmental NGO, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, and is an adviser to the National Alliance of People’s Movement, has been quoted as saying, “It is true that during Vinoba’s bhoodan movement, 1.02 lakh acres of land was received as donation from the state’s landlords.”
Of this, he informed the participants, 51,000 to 52,000 acres land was distributed among the landless. However, the situation, he opined, has changed considerably since 1950s when the land was distributed, as large number of rural areas have become urbanized.
“However”, he insisted, “The Gujarat government did not come up with any law with regard to the bhoodan land, as it existed in the Saurashtra State before Gujarat came into existence in 1960, or in the then Vidarbha State of Maharashtra. Hence, the GSM is not in legal possession of any land. As of today, it has no land.”
Mazgaonkar explained, “Two or three generations have passed since then. This has created a number of problems in identifying as to who owns the bhoodan land. The Gujarat High Court, in its order dated December 29, 2016, has identified three types of owners: Successors of the original owners, those who received the land, and illegal encroachers.”
“The magnanimous sacrifices of lands made by the original land owners in the bhoodan yagna appear to have gone in vain” -- Gujarat High Court
Mazgaonkar's statement, quoted in minutes of the activists' meeting, comes against the backdrop of the Gujarat government beginning inquiry, through a high-level committee under the chairmanship of the chief secretary, to ascertain lands which still remain undistributed and unaccounted for the alleged "mismanagement of the bhoodan samitis", on one hand, and indifference of the state government, on the other.
The high-level committee was formed on February 2, 2017, after the High Court order directed the state government to do the investigation.
Significantly, Mazgaonkar spoke of having "no land" even as a GSM report, submitted to the High Court in 2013, admitted that total lands admeasuring 103,530 acres were received during the bhoodan movement, which land admeasuring 52,546 acres still remains undistributed.
The High Court order, delivered by Justice Bela M Trivedi, wondered, “Should the avowed and laudable object of the bhoodan movement spearheaded by Acharya Shri Vinoba Bhave be allowed to be frustrated, and the sacrifices of lands made by the land owners in the bhoodan yagna for the benefit of landless persons be allowed to go in vain, on account of the lethargy and mismanagement of bhoodan committees, and the apathy and inaction of the state government?”
Even as criticizing the Gujarat government for not enacting “any law to facilitate, regulate, distribute and monitor such lands donated in the bhoodan yagna” on lines of several Indian states, the order said, “The magnanimous sacrifices of lands made by the original land owners in the bhoodan yagna appear to have gone in vain.”

Comments

TRENDING

Gujarat refusal to observe Maulana Azad's birthday as Education Day 'discriminatory'

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government decision not to celebrate the National Education Day on !monday has gone controversial. Civil society organizations have particularly wondered whether the state government is shying away from the occasion, especially against the backdrop of "deteriorating" level of education in Gujarat.

Visually challenged lady seeks appointment with Gujarat CM, is 'unofficially' detained

By Pankti Jog*
It was a usual noon of November 10. I got a phone call on our Right to Information (RTI) helpline No 9924085000 from Ranjanben of Khambhat, narrating her “disgraceful” experience after she had requested for an appointment with Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani. She wanted to meet Rupani, on tour of the Khambhat area in Central Gujarat as part of his Janvikas Jumbesh (Campaign for Development).

People's pressure? GPCB mining cancellation 'notice' to top cement unit in Gujarat

By Sagar Rabari*
Environmental Clearance (EC) was given to Ultratech Cement Co Ltd for limestone mining in villages Talli and Bambhor of Talaja taluka in Bhavnagar district of Gujarat on January 5, 2017. EC was issued ignoring, overriding and undermining opposition from local farmers to mining activity in the area. The mining in these two villages covers an area of 193.3268 hectares (ha), while the entire project is spread over an area of 1,715.1311 ha.

Violent 'Ajodhya' campaign in 1840s after British captured Kabul, destroyed Jama Masjid

Counterview Desk  Irfan Ahmad, professor at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen, Germany, and author of “Islamism and Democracy in India” (Princeton University Press, 2009), short-listed for the 2011 International Convention of Asian Scholars Book Prize for the best study in Social Sciences, in his "initial thoughts" on the Supreme Court judgment on the Babri-Jam Janmaboomi dispute has said, while order was “lawful”, it was also “awful.”

Bullet train acquisition: Land holding worth Rs 1.5 crore, Gujarat govt 'offer' Rs 8 lakh

By RK Misra*
Foundation stones laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi litter India’s cities, towns and villages, but there are few projects which he has pursued with such perseverance and tenacity as the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train one. However, the overwhelming state power notwithstanding, the farmers, whose lands are being acquired for the Modi government’s dream project, have no plans to give up the fight.

NHRC notice to Gujarat chief secretary following silicosis deaths in Rajkot

By Our Representative
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has asked the Gujarat chief secretary and the district magistrate, Rajkot, to respond to a complaint filed by health rights activist Jagdish Patel of the People's Training and Research Centre (PTRC), Vadodara, regarding the alleged death of Raju Prakash Parihar and two others reportedly because of silicosis, a fatal occupation disease, in Rajkot, one of Gujarat’s top cities.

Banned? Indian ports 'received' 38 US plastic waste containers reexported from Indonesia

By Rajiv Shah
An Indonesia-based international environmental watchdog group has dug out what it has called “a global pollution shell game”, stating how officials in Indonesia approved re-exports of “illegal” US waste shipments containing plastics mainly to India, as also to other Asian countries -- Thailand, South Korea and Vietnam -- instead of returning them to the US “as promised.”