Mahuva is situated in the western coast of Gujarat. Once the land was barren and was prone to salinity ingress. Only 10% of the land was used for cultivation. Measures were taken to check salinity ingress which yielded result and land became cultivable. Now almost 100% land is cultivated. Onion production is quite high. More than 52 dehydration plants of onion are operational here. 5,000 people are directly employed in onion farming. The export of onion earns foreign exchange in tune to cr. In addition to that 18 cotton ginning factories are running.
The Govt of Gujarat sanctioned to Nirma Ltd. 288 hectares (720 acres) to construct cement factory and 3000 hectares (7500 acres) for limestone mining.
The grant was given after the Indian Minister of Environment and Forests granted Environmental Clearance to Nirma on December 11, 2008 on the basis of rapid environmental impact assessment (EIA), that describes the project site as wasteland. Nirma then obtained in-principle approval from the state to mine limestone from 3,460 ha in Mahuva’s Padhiarka village to feed the cement plant.
It would only employ 418 people. The total investment is Rs. 2500 crore (Rs. 25 billion). Part of the project site is a reservoir, Samadhiyala Bandhara, and its catchment, spread over 100 ha. Farmers use the reservoir water to irrigate their fields; the allotment triggered widespread protests.
But the villagers are also raising their voice against the allotment of land. More than 45,000 people are mobilizing, aganist the loss of agricultural land, onion production, production of cotton. The ginning factory may face closure and direct employment will get lost. The cement factory will give employment to only 418 people and that too will be not necessarily given to local people.
In Jan 2011, the ministry’s expert appraisal committee had recommended the revocation of the Clearence, because it was granted based on undisclosed and incorrect information. The plant is located on a wetland, and not wasteland as claimed by the Gujarat government as well as Nirma in its environmental impact assessment report submitted to the ministry.
Nirma later appeal against the decision and the case is now under examination by the Green National Tribunal (1).(See less)