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Now,land agitations hit Gujarat

The situation is not as bad yet but Gujarat looks all set to get its own Nandigram and Singur. The Narendra Modi government is currently facing stiff resistance...

The situation is not as bad yet but Gujarat looks all set to get its own Nandigram and Singur. The Narendra Modi government is currently facing stiff resistance from villagers in at least five districts against its decision to hand over agricultural and grazing lands to industrial houses.

The protesters have gathered under the banner of Gujarat Lok Samiti,which has floated the slogan — Jaan denge,zameen nahin (We will give up our lives,not our land).

The agitations are on in Mahuva taluka of Bhavnagar,Vadodara Jala village of Junagadh district,Mocha village of Porbandar district,Anwarpura village of Patan district and Zarpara village of Kutch district.

In Vadodara Jala,the entire village is protesting against the recent acquisition of 650 acres of village ‘gauchar’ (land used for the purpose of grazing animals) by the Gujarat Maritime Board,Veraval,for transfer to L&T Port Sutrapala Private Limited to construct a private port. The acquisition was condemned by the Gram Panchayat after which villagers stalled work at the site.

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The state government had issued a resolution some time ago,saying that for every 100 animals,40 acres of gauchar was required. Vadodara Jala has animal population of 6,060,making the required gauchar 2,424 acres. “Why then did the government decide to sell the 650 acres of grazing land of the village is beyond comprehension,” said Chuni Vaidya,who heads the Gujarat Lok Samiti.

While Hitendra Solanki,Project Manager,L&T,said he was not authorised to say anything,C J Rawal,Executive Engineer (Privatisation Cell),Gujarat Maritime Board,declined to comment. 

Vaidya added that it was a similar case in Mahuva. “In Mahuva,the BJP’s local MLA Kanu Kalsariya is leading a popular agitation against the government’s decision to allot a cement factory project to Nirma company,which will completely uproot nearly 15 villages,” he said.

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In Zarpara village of Kutch,the agitation began after gauchar land from 14 villages in and around the Mundra port was transferred to the Adani Group at throwaway prices. The villagers,mostly from the traditional cattle grazer community of Charan,protested against the allotment of 1,000 acres of grazing land to the firm. 

In Patan district,villagers of Anwarpura have stalled the proposed plan by the state-owned Gujarat State Fertilizers & Chemicals Limited (GSFC) to grow Jatropha plant (used for producing bio-diesel) on the 132 acres of gauchar land in the village. GSFC had earlier rejected the proposal by the Anwarpura Gram Panchayat to distribute the land among the village’s landless farmers and cultivate Jatropha in partnership with the company.

GSFC Managing Director Hari Patel,who ordered the suspension of works until negotiations with villagers were not over,was unavailable for comments.

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In Mocha village of Porbandar,the villagers are up against mining bigwigs who have taken over limestone deposits on the village’s grazing land. Naga Parmar of the Mocha Gram Panchayat said: “Even though we are protesting,nothing has been done as yet and the mining goes on unabated leading to environment imbalance.”

First published on: 27-07-2009 at 11:18:36 pm
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