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Mining in Bhavnagar district would render 25,000 jobless, 'impact' Asiatic lions

A farmers' protest against limestone mining in Bhavnagar district
By Our Representative
Farmers’ rights leader Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), in a letter to the secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), has wondered how could the Government of India grant environment clearance (EC) to the UltraTech company for mining limestone in Bhavnagar district by taking away the livelihood of 25,000 people. As against this, the company, he claimed, would be employing just 30 people.
UltraTech’s EC has been approved for excavating limestone in Talaja and Mahuva talukas of Bhavnagar district in Gujarat despite protests by people, Rabari said, adding, this was done without verifying the details the government was provided.
According to Rabari, a right to information (RTI) plea suggests has there are several Asiatic lions, as also other rare wildlife species, living in the area. Asserting that wildlife would therefore get disturbed, he added, mining would be allowed on 1715.1311 hectares (ha) of land, affecting 13 villages, thereby rendering thousands of farmers and farm labourers, and those employed in animal husbandry, jobless.
Pointing out that farming is the main business here, which the MoEFCC has ignored while granting EC, Rabari said, lions census of 2015 suggested there were 523 lions in Gujarat, of which 37 (7%) lived in Bhavnagar district. Taking this into account, the Gujarat government, in its government resolution (GR) dated March 30, 2019 declared Talaja, Mahuva, Palitana, Rajula, Lilia and Jafarabad talukas as the Greater Gir.
“How legal or fair is mining in in this area?”, Rabari wondered, even as recalling that the Gujarat High Court-appointed amicus curiae in a recent report had said that mining was a major reason for the unnatural deaths of a large number of Asiatic lions.
At the same time, he said, mining would adversely affected would be onion and garlic dehydration plants operating in Mahuva and Talaja talukas, which employ 3,000 people, earning foreign exchange worth more than Rs 1,000 crore, and cotton ginning mills.
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