Gujarat govt says it is resuming 108 hectares of land from Adani Group's APSEZ for grazing land

The government said this in the high court which is hearing a public interest litigation filed by villagers challenging the allotment of 231 hectares of land to APSEZ back in 2005.
Last Updated : 05 July 2024, 15:02 IST

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Ahmedabad: In a significant development, the Gujarat government on Friday said that it has decided to resume back 108 hectares of land from Adani Group's Adani Port and Special Economic Zone (APSEZ) in Mundra taluka of Kutch district and reserved it as gauchar or grazing land for the local villagers.

The government said this in the high court which is hearing a public interest litigation filed by villagers challenging the allotment of 231 hectares of land to APSEZ back in 2005. Appearing for the state, additional advocate general Mitesh Amin told the court "pursuant to my lords' orders, the state government has taken a conscious decision that the land which is 129 hectares will be reserved for gauchar land and whatever had been allotted (to APSEZ) from that particular part of the land will be taken back and will be reserved."

Amin also produced affidavits filed by additional chief secretary Manoj Kumar Das and Kutch collector Amit Arora. In the affidavit, Das has stated, "It is more respectfully submitted that pursuant to the order passed by this court on 21/06/2024, the collector, Kuchchh, proposed before the office of the answering respondent to resume 108-22-35 hectares of land from respondent no.7 (APSEZ) herein which was allotted to the said respondent vide order dated 27/06/2005. This proposal has been accorded sanction by the state government on 04.07.2024."

Similarly, Kutch collector stated in his affidavit that "...since the land available as gauchar in village Navinal was H 17-42-14 Ares, whereas the required area of the gauchar land in accordance with the policy of the state government considering that the cattle population of the village is 732, is a total of 320 acres (129-50-08 Are), it was resolved to resume land back from the present respondent no-7 who was granted 231 acres (H93-48-57 Are) from village Navinal vide order dated 26/07/2005.

Following the submission, the division bench of chief justice Sunita Agarwal and Pranav Trivedi passed an order directing the government to "complete the process in accordance with law." On objections raised by the advocate appearing for APSEZ , the court said that it was free to challenge the order. The advocate submitted that the government's decision was "directly affecting the company as several factories are operational on that land."

A group of villagers from Navinal had filed a PIL through advocate Anand Yagnik in 2011, a year after they learnt about the allotment after they saw the company started fencing the grazing land. The villagers contended that they were facing "serious shortage of grazing land after the state government decided to allocate 231 out of 276 acres of land to APSEZ, the village is now left only with 45 acres of land for grazing and it does not match the ratio of the cattle in the village." Citing resolutions of the state government, they contended that since there was no excess land, such allocation of land was illegal.

In 2014, this PIL was disposed of after the government filed an affidavit assuring the court that it would grant 387 hectares of government land as grazing land. A contempt petition was filed in the court after the government failed to do so. Upon non-compliance of the Order of the High Court, a contempt petition was filed before the High Court of Gujarat.

In 2015, according to Yagnik, the state filed a review petition in the high court "contending that the available land for allocation to the Panchayat is only 17 hectares than that of what was conveyed at the time of disposal of the PIL. The court vide order dated 28.08.2015, while reviving the petition also commented as to whether the change in stand of government is on account of bonafide pardonable inadvertence or is based on other consideration."

On April 19 and June 21, the high court asked the Kutch collector and principal secretary, revenue department to file personal affidavits to resolve the issue with regard to replenishment of the gauchar land. Earlier, the government had proposed to give additional land for gaucher about six to seven km away from the village, which the court denied.

Published 05 July 2024, 15:02 IST

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