RESIDENTS OF 13 villages of Mahuva and Talaja talukas of Bhavnagar district have opposed a resolution of the Bhavnagar district to lease a 12-kilometre-long section of a major district road to UltraTech Cement Limited (ULC) for movement of the latter’s mining machinery and transporting limestone mined from these villages. The villagers have threatened to block movement of such vehicles if the proposal is not withdrawn within a week.
Leaders of the 13 villages, led by Bharat Bhil, submitted a memorandum to Bhavnagar district development officer (DDO) Varun Baranwal on Monday stating the proposal to hand over the 12-km long road to UltraTech on a three-year lease was unjust and against the spirit of democracy.
“Farmers of 13 villages are fighting to save their private and fertile land from being handed over to UltraTech company… To lease the 12 km Bambhor to Borda road, which is under control of Roads and Buildings (panchayat) Department of Bhavnagar, to UltraTech company is great injustice to village panchayats, people living in that area and farmers who are opposed (to the mining project) and violates spirit of democracy,” the farmers stated in their memorandum.
The memorandum warned that if justice was not done in a week’s time, villagers will block movement of vehicles and machinery of UCL. “If justice is not done, we shall prohibit entry of such vehicles a week from now,” read the memorandum.
The farmer’s representation comes around two months after the executive committee of Bhavnagar district panchayat adopted a resolution at its meeting on June 10 to lease the road to UltraTech for three years.
Presently, limited mining activity is going in coastal Bambhor village, Bhil says. The 12 km-road connects Bambhor village to the National
Highway 51 via Talli, Datha, Vataliya and Borda villages. The NH 51 then provides connectivity to the company’s plant in Kovaya in Rajula.
“We are opposed to the three mining projects as it robs farmers of their fertile land and will lead to their displacement. We have already filed a petition with the National Green Tribunal to cancel environmental clearance granted to the Kalsar-Dayal-Kotda mining site… Therefore, to torture farmers mentally, now the company is talking about leasing the road,” Bhil told The Indian Express on Thursday.
He added that the road passes through five villages and movement of heavy machinery poses risks to people’s health in form of dusting and air and noise pollution.
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