Land grab for a power plant of Gujarat Power Corporation Ltd. in Bhavnagar, Gujarat, India

More than 5000 farmers in Gujarat protest against land grab for setting up a thermal power plant and lignite mine by pleading for "mass euthanasia", as without the land they won´t survive.


Description

Ghogha is a Census Town city in district of Bhavnagar, Gujarat consisting 46 villages, with a population of 12,208 according to the census data of 2011. In 1993-94, the Gujarat government acquired 3,377 acres from 12 villages, consisting of farm land, grazing land, and wasteland, with the purpose of constructing a thermal power plant, a residential colony, an area for ash dumping and mining lignite (1). The consent award was passed between 1997 and 2001 and compensations were paid to farmers at the rates of Rs 48,000 per hectare for non-irrigated land and Rs 72,000 per hectare for irrigated land; the 30-year land lease conditions stipulated that Gujarat Thermal Power Corporation (GPCL) would set up a power plant in two years and start using the land. The mining lease was executed in 2005, and Bhavnagar Thermal Power Plant (BTPP) was commissioned near village Padva in 2017.  (2). However, the farmers claim that the plant was to be commissioned by 2000, yet the attempts to take physical possession of the land started more than two decades later. In December 2017, 93 farmers from Badi village near Ghogha town sought a declaration from the Gujarat High court that the land acquisition proceedings initiated more than two decades ago, with compensation paid thereafter should be considered to have lapsed, according to section 24(2) of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (2). According to The Wire, this was after they had collectively decided to fight against this land acquisition though legal means as well as protests. According to Vasudevsinh Gohil, a resident of Badi village, ´ On December 20 last year (2017), the collector of Bhavnagar, contractors and officials representing GPCL, and about 100 police personnel came to Badi to proceed with the physical possession of the land´ (3). Subsequently, on December 23, the villagers staged a massive protest, with about 5,000-7,000 villagers sitting on a dharna at Surkha village, along the road connecting the 12 villages. On the same day, the state administration promised a meeting between villagers and representatives of the GPCL, while asking villagers to not stage any protest in next 45 days. Meanwhile, the Bhavnagar police filed two FIRs against ten farmers in Gogha police station and Vartej police station, accusing them of inciting villagers for their benefit and creating an obstacle in police work. Of the ten farmers, three farmers were named in both FIRs. One day before the case was to be heard in the court, on February 15, 2018, villagers claim that about 1,200 police personnel swarmed into the 12 villages. Roads between the villages were blocked. Reportedly, there was one deputy superintendent of police, ten inspectors, 15 sub-inspectors, 70 policewomen and 15 personnel from the mounted police division present. According to the villagers, the police and collector had been threatening the farmers to not protest (3). However, the villagers had been protesting despite the threats and fears. On April 1, about 100 heavily armed police personnel marched into a nondescript village, Badi in Ghogha taluka of Gujarat’s Bhavnagar district, and fired tear gas shells and lathi-charged locals, injuring about ten persons, including women, and detained more than 50 (4). All of this was to disperse about 11,000 farmers who were sitting in protest to try and keep their land, which is to be taken over by GPCL; to add to that, from April 1 this year, the Bhavnagar police has declared a state of emergency in the 12 villages opposing GPCL’s land acquisition, banning the assembly of four or more people at one place (1).

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Basic Data
NameLand grab for a power plant of Gujarat Power Corporation Ltd. in Bhavnagar, Gujarat, India
CountryIndia
ProvinceGujarat
SiteBhavnagar district
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Coal extraction and processing
Thermal power plants
Specific CommoditiesElectricity
Land
Coal
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsIn 1993-94, the Gujarat government acquired 3,377 acres from 12 villages, consisting of farm land, grazing land, and wasteland, with the purpose of constructing a thermal power plant, a residential colony, an area for ash dumping and mining lignite (1). In this regard the Bhavnagar Thermal Power Plant (BTPP) was commissioned near village Padva in 2017 (2). The Bhavnagar power station, also known as Padva power station, is a 500-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power station.
Project Area (in hectares)1367
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population5000-6000
Start Date01/01/2017
Company Names or State EnterprisesGujarat Power Corporation Limited (GPCL) from India
Relevant government actorsState Government of Gujarat
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersGujarat Khedut Samaj
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Local ejos
Women
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of a network/collective action
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Hunger strikes and self immolation
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Global warming, Soil contamination, Food insecurity (crop damage), Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Health ImpactsVisible: Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..)
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in violence and crime, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession
Outcome
Project StatusUnder construction
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Criminalization of activists
Court decision (undecided)
Repression
Violent targeting of activists
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.The farmers have been protesting fiercely against the land grab, and in April 2018 declared the will for "mass euthanasia". However, the court case is pending as well the letters written to the President and Prime Minister asking for justice for the farmers haven´t been answered.
Sources and Materials
Legislations

Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013

Links

1. Article in The Wire by Damayantee Dhar
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2. Times of India report
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3. The Wire report on the protest by the farmers
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5. Time of India report about the mass euthanasia plea of 5259 farmers
[click to view]

4. Article in The Hindu about the police violence during the farmers´ protests
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6. Article in The Scroll
[click to view]

Other Documents

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The protesters demand the company to initiate fresh proceedings to acquire the contentious land as per the Land Acquisition Act-2013. (Photo: Representational Image)
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Meta Information
ContributorBrototi Roy
Last update29/05/2018
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