Ahmedabad, April 13 With the echoes of the Nandigram issue yet to die down, a similar conflagration seems to be brewing in a small village in Gujarat. The issue is the same — Special Economic Zone — for which the Centre has already made special provisions. But in Zarpara village of Mundra taluka, where the Adanis are to set up the state’s biggest SEZ, those provisions have allegedly been given a go-by.
Now, not only have the villagers approached the court, they even threaten to forcibly stop acquisition if need be, the way villagers in Nandigram did.
The Centre has asked the states not to acquire over 10 per cent of agricultural land for an SEZ.
Also, if the acquisition was made compulsory, the project will not get approval from the SEZ Board, the states were told.
But there has been blatant breach of both these basic rules, said Valjibhai Taparia, convenor of the Village Gauchar Bachav Samiti.
A thousand acres of gauchar land (pasture) has been given to the Adanis for their proposed SEZ on basis of an NOC by the village sarpanch, he said.
The villagers had not consented to it.
“No gram sabha was called to discuss the matter.
The clandestine resolution by sarpanch Dhanraj Gadhvi was passed on March 14, 2007, and we came to know about it accidentally when we went to the collectorate. We got hold of the rest of the story after filing an RTI,” Taparia added.
Taparia said that the grant of Gauchar land was totally illegal and against the provision of the present land rules. As per the census of animals conducted last year by the government, the village had 8,873 milch cattle. As per government norms, 40 acres of land has been earmarked for 100 heads of cattle. The village required 3,549 acres for the entire bovine population.
At present, the village had just 2,840 acres, of which 1,000 acres have been given to the Adanis for their SEZ.
“When we are already short of 709 acres of the pasture, how can gauchar land be allotted for the SEZ?” he said. The sarpanch, he alleged, has received a hefty sum from the Adanis.
Moreover, the land had been sold to the Adanis at a throwaway price, he said.
While land in surrounding areas have been bought at Rs 20 lakh an acre, the pasture had been bought at the price of Rs 6.30 per square meter. The Adanis will be required to pay half of this very low price as an incentive for the SEZ, he said.
On Friday, the village had organised a rally at Mundra and handed a memorandum to Bhuj sub-divisional magistrate and the deputy collector, demanding immediate cancellation of the NOC.
Over 2,500 men of the 7,000-strong village had participated in the rally. It was addressed by district and taluka-level BJP leaders — district president Tarachand Chheda, vice president Girish Chheda and taluka president Vishram Gadhavi. Taparia said they have already filed a PIL in the Gujarat High Court, which is to be heard next month.
They had warned the administration that the village would not hesitate to take law in their hands to create a Nandigram-like situation if the officials tried to enter the area forcibly.
On basis of the memorandum, the taluka development officer had called a gram sabha on Monday to ascertain the views of the villagers. Girish Chheda said the District Development Officer will be present in the meeting.
Sarpanch Gadhavi was not available for comments.