For the first time perhaps,the Gujarat government has buckled under pressure from farmers and withdrawn 36 villages from the proposed Mandal-Becharaji Special Investment Region that covers 44 villages,leaving the SIR with about 20 per cent of the original plan.
The announcement was made by the state government,after considering representation from the farmers,in an official press release while adding that a new development plan for the SIR would be drawn soon and eight villages will be included in it.
The villages that have been kept in the project include Hansalpur where Maruti Suzuki has proposed a car manufacturing plant.
The state government had proposed the MB-SIR while issuing draft development plan for the same in May. The state government had also issued a notification for the acquisition of 50,884 hectare land of 44 villages for the project while inviting objections from the farmers. The proposed acquisition included huge chunks of land falling under the Narmada Canals command area.
This notification was followed by protests by farmers from 44 villages. Chief Minister Narendra Modi had met the farmers from these villages on July 22,giving them an assurance that if they did not want the SIR in their villages,the state government would not force it on them. He assured them of taking a decision in this regard by August 15.
Modi then appointed a committee comprising Finance Minister Nitin Patel,Revenue Minister Anandi Patel,Law Minister Bhupendra Chudasama and Energy Minister Saurabh Patel to negotiate with selected farmer-leaders. This committee had met farmer-leaders from 44 villages and recommended withdrawal of 36 villages from the proposed SIR. The recommendation was accepted by the Chief Minister.
The 36 villages that will not be included in the proposed SIR and whose land will not be acquired are from taluka centres of Detroj,Mandal and Dasada-Patdi. The eight villages that will remain in the SIR are Bhagapura and Shihor of Detroj taluka,Hansalpur-Becharaji,Sitapur,Udhroj,Udhrojpura and Ukardi of Mandal taluka,Chandanki village of Becharaji taluka.
The leaders of the farmers agitation have welcomed the decision. Four months after the launch of the agitation against the MB SIR,today the people have tasted victory,however incomplete it yet be, said Lalji Desai and Sagar Rabari of the Jameen Adhikar Andolan Gujarat,the voluntary group that led the agitation,in a press statement.
This is an incomplete victory since the demands of the agitation viz withdrawal of the SIR notification,removal of Maruti Suzuki and reversing the process of de-commanding of Narmada command area are pending. It is nonetheless welcome since this is the first time in the last 12 years that the state government had to give in to the demands of the people,owing to the massive show of strength and their unprecedented solidarity in the face of machination, the organisation said in the statement.
Farmers victory,says Congress MLA
AHMEDABAD: Reacting to the state governments announcement of withdrawing 36 villages from the proposed MB-SIR,Congress MLA from Viramgam Dr Tejashree D Patel said that it was a victory of the farmers. She said that had the state government not withdrawn its proposal,the farmers movement would have spread to other parts of the state as well.