The state government on Friday said that there was no need to form a committee as suggested by the Gujarat High Court (HC) at a previous hearing in order to reach a consensus on the land dispute that has arisen in five villages of Narmada district owing to the planned development of the region around Kevadia colony near the Statue of Unity.
The division bench of HC headed by Chief Justice Vikram Nath on Friday gave 10 days to the advocate for the petitioners, NM Kapadia and the state government’s counsels to formulate a workable plan that may facilitate mediation between the two parties to resolve the dispute.
The matter is expected to be heard on February 11.
A public interest litigation (PIL) was moved by civil right activists Mahesh Pandya, Anand Mazgaonkar, Ashok Naik and Jatin Sheth in July, 2019, on behalf of the residents, villagers and tribals from five villages around Kevadia colony. The villages include Kevadia, Vagadia, Navagam, Limdi and Gora. Tribal residents of these villages have been resisting acquisition of their land by the Gujarat government in the region around SOU.
They argued that while the state government acquired the land parcels in the five villages in 1960, 1961 and 1962, the villagers continued to be in possession of the land and cultivate there. The petitioners had thus contended that as per the provisions of The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, if an acquired land remains unoccupied for five years, the acquisition lapses.
During the court proceedings on Wednesday, the bench suggested formation of a committee consisting of law officers, judicial members, government officials and village representatives from the five villages, to resolve the dispute. No opinion on the court’s suggestion was given by the state government then.
An oral order to this effect was passed by the bench wherein time of 48 hours was given to both sides to take instructions so as to “find a solution for an amicable settlement” of the issue.
According to one of the petitioners present during the court proceedings, on Friday, the advocate for the petitioners orally submitted that the villagers were open to the formation of a committee.
However, the state represented by the Advocate General Kamal Trivedi said that there was no need for a committee. The court then suggested that the counsels of both sides may come up with a resolution plan that both the parties will be amenable to.