Agri Business

India Inc projects in Gujarat face uncertainty

Virendra Pandit Gandhinagar | Updated on March 21, 2011

gujarat-farmers   -  PTI

A spate of agitations is queering the pitch for India Inc in Gujarat that has relatively easier procedures, unlike other States.

The power of RTI and PILs, according to observers, has changed things dramatically even from January when MoUs for investments of Rs 20 lakh crore were signed at the fifth edition of Vibrant Gujarat. In the eight weeks since, a delegation of hundreds of farmers and agitators, protesting against the cement plant proposed to be set up by Nirma Ltd in Bhavnagar district, reached Gandhinagar after a 300-km ‘padyatra' to meet the Chief Minister, Mr Narendra Modi.

The farmers were led by Dr Kanu Kalsaria, BJP MLA from Bhavnagar, who has been spearheading the movement against the cement plant on environmental concerns. Specifically, that it it would affect the water body the villagers built in 2000. On its part, Nirma has been fighting the case in the courts and with the MoEF, which has threatened to revoke the environmental clearance granted in 2008 and stop work at the proposed plant, to be set up at an investment of nearly Rs 2,000 crore. The plant, in Mahuva taluka of Bhavnagar district, was to have a manufacturing capacity of 1.91 million tonnes a year.

Elsewhere, too, other projects face uncertainties. Post the development in Japan, the proposed nuclear power project at Mithi Virdi is in public gaze. Farmers from adjoining villages have formed the Bhavnagar Jilla Gam Bachao Samiti to protest against what they see as the loss of their fertile land, used mainly for horticulture, and the threat to the environment and people's health.

The Congress MP from Jamnagar, Mr Vikram Maadam, is leading a farmers' campaign against what he terms the “unsatisfactory” compensation being paid to them for Cairn India's 70-km-long pipeline from Salaya to Bhogat for a terminal to receive the Barmer crude oil for sea freighting to Mangalore Oil Refinery and other users. On March 16, Mr Maadam raised the issue in the Lok Sabha claiming that he had received “threats” from the company officials in this regard.

The Adani Group's Mundra Port and SEZ complex in Kutch district is also facing some rough weather. Local fishermen, claiming a threat to their livelihood due to port-and SEZ-related activity like filling up creeks, leading to a loss of mangroves, grazing land and fish catch, have been agitating for long with the help of NGOs and others. The Gujarat High Court, earlier this week, reserved its order on a PIL in this regard.

Similar agitations have also begun against projects such as the thermal power plant of the Shappoorji Pallanji Group in Junagarh district and the Essar coal jetty in Jamnagar district. The affected people, led by the NGOs and other interest groups, have moved courts.

Published on March 20, 2011

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