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Monday, September 27, 2021

Kutch villagers protest against installation of windmills

Around 500 residents of Sangnara village marched to Vadvalu Talav area in their village and occupied a foundation laid by a renewable energy company to install a windmill.

By: Express News Service | Rajkot |
August 6, 2021 11:06:36 pm
The matter is pending with the NGT. (File)

RESIDENTS OF SANGNARA village in Nakhtrana taluka of Kutch on Friday occupied land allotted to a renewable energy company in their village and resolved not to allow the company to install a windmill there at any cost, as, they claimed, the land is part of gauchar (community grazing land) belonging to the village panchayat.

Around 500 residents of Sangnara village marched to Vadvalu Talav area in their village and occupied a foundation laid by a renewable energy company to install a windmill. People associated with and supporting around 13 NGOs, including Sahjeevan, Banni Breeders’ Association etc, also extended their support to the residents and joined them in the march as well as occupying the land allotted to the company.

“At the end of the protest, all the villagers resolved that we will not allow installation of a windmill in Vadvalu Talav area or anywhere in the village as the spots of windmills and approach roads would eat into gauchar and precious tree cover of our village,” Shankar Limbani, a farmer from Sangnara who is leading residents of the village in the protests, said.

Limbani said that the government had allotted land to a private company in 2015-16 to install 11 windmills in Sangnara. “Three of the 11 locations were later cancelled due to technical reasons while the company installed windmills at six locations and laid foundation of one more windmill at Vadvalu Talav area. However, it suspended work after that. In the meantime, the government resurveyed gauchar without involving residents of Sangnara and promulgated new maps survey details in 2018. The new maps reduced the size of gauchar and land allotted to the energy company in Vadvalu Talav was shown as government wasteland while maps of survey conducted in 1988 showed it to be part of gauchar. In 2019, government allotted land to three other energy companies for installing 39 other windmills in our village. We realised that these windmills will destroy gauchar and therefore we started protesting,” Limbani further said.

On behalf of residents of Sangnara, Limbani filed a petitioned before the National Green Tribunal (NGT) complaining installation of windmills was destroying tree cover and harming environment and biodiversity in the village. The matter is pending with the NGT.

In the meantime, the energy company which was allotted land in 2015-16 started mobilising machinery around 45 days ago for completing installation of windmills at Vadvalu Talav and one other location.

“But we have not allowed the company to resume work and won’t allow it to do at any cost. Cattle population in our village is around 3,000 and besides agriculture, cattle-herding is other important occupation of people. Land diverted for installation of windmills and related infrastructure will not only east into this land but will also destroy a patch of prime thorny vegetations and native tree species spread over around 700 hectare in our village,” Limbani added.

Addressing the villagers from the foundation of the windmill in Vadvalu Talav, Ramesh Bhatti, programme director of Sahjeevan, said the government is acting like the British rulers. “From today onward, this foundation does not belong to the windmill company but to gauchar and residents of Sangnara…,” Bhatti said.

Limbani said that other energy companies uprooted some trees and levelled some lands. “But after our complaints, the local sub-divisional magistrate fined the companies for destroying trees,” he said.

Kutch district collector Praveena DK could not be reached for a comment.

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