Bhil Farmers in MP's Ratlam Face Risk of Eviction from Industrial Cluster

Reported by

Nihar GokhaleLand Conflict Watch

Last updated on

April 29, 2021

Location of Conflict



This is A Schedule Five District

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Food Processing

Food processing



People Affected by Conflict


Land Area Affected (in Hectares)



Starting Year



Madhya Pradesh



Twentyone families belonging to the Bhil tribal community face the threat of being evicted from 18 hectares of farmland in Karamdi village on the outskirts of Ratlam city. On paper, the land belongs to the government and is classified as grazing land. A silver lining for the farmers came in the form of a Supreme Court ruling on April 29, 2019, which upheld the temporary stay on their eviction issued by the Ratlam civil court in 2016. In January 2019, the farmers filed another petition before the Madhya Pradesh high court, stating that under an 1984 state law, they should receive titles to the grazing land. On January 9, the high court ordered a stay on the industrial cluster. The petition is being heard. In 2015, the state had proposed to set up a namkeen industrial cluster for the production of Ratlami Sev (a popular snack in the city) over 18 hectares of grazing land, which included approximately 12 hectares of farmlands belonging to the Bhils. In 2016, the government began excavation on the site, damaging the standing crop of the farmers. Twelve Bhil families are now landless and work as daily wage earners to make ends meet. In the past three years, the farmers have filed cases at all levels of the judiciary. In February 2016, they filed a suit in the Ratlam civil court, seeking protection from eviction. The court granted an immediate oneyear temporary stay on the eviction. But the stay order was overruled in March by an appeals court in Ratlam and then by the high court. The farmers appealed this before the Supreme Court, which, in November 2016, ordered a stay on the construction of the cluster. However, in April 2017, the government resumed construction, leading the farmers to file a contempt petition, which is still being heard. The cluster has been constructed, and more than 50 plots have been allotted for commercial purpose, according to the state government's website. Ratlam District Collector Ruchika Chauhan declined to comment when contacted by LCW. In an application to the Union Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, the state government claimed that the cluster is necessary to support the city's namkeen makers who are losing market share to largesized competitors. In affidavits to the local courts, the government has claimed that the land is rocky and that the Bhil farmers are merely encroachers. Shailendra Gandhi, president of the Ratlami Sev Evam Namkeen Mandal, dismissed the Bhils' claims as _bakwaas _(bogus). "This is just a _saazish _(agenda) by the Indore namkeen lobby and opposition politicians because they don't want our industry to grow," he said. Ankit Luniya, an entrepreneur setting up the first namkeen unit in Ratlam, said the land was rocky and that the cluster did not take up farmland. The Bhils, on the other hand, claim to have been cultivating on this land for the last 80 years and to have been recorded in revenue surveys dating back to 1967. The farmers claim that their forefathers had worked hard on the rocky land to make it cultivable and that they should be given patta or permanent lease so that they can continue to cultivate. The Bhils are landless and grow food on their farms. The origin of the conflict between the Bhils and the state can be traced back to 2009, when the government proposed a foodprocessing park over 32 hectares of the grazing land, including the entire area cultivated by the Bhils. The district officials had attempted to evict some farmers then, but they returned to the land and the government did not pursue the project.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand for legal recognition of land rights

Region Classification


Type of Land


Type of Common Land

Non-Forest (Grazing Land)

Total investment involved (in Crores):


Type of investment:

Investment Made

Year of Estimation

Has the Conflict Ended?

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Forest and Scheduled Area Governance Laws, Constitutional Law, Central/State Government Policy

Legislations/Policies Involved

Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community? What was the decision of the concerned government department?

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Forced evictions/ Dispossession of Land, Constitutional inconsistencies between state and Central land laws, Scheduled Tribes status or lack of status

Legal Status:

In Court

Status of Case In Court

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

Madhya Pradesh High court

Case Number

W.P. No.2234/2016, W.P. 431/2019

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

Displacement, Physical attack

Whether criminal law was used against protestors

Official name of the criminal law. Did the case reach trial?

Reported Details of the Violation:

In February 2016, government officials visited the area proposed for the namkeen cluster with JCB and razed the farms of the Bhil farmers despite their protests. Twelve families were forcefully evicted.

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest

Advocacy (for inclusion in courts)

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

District Administration, Ratlam; Department of Industries and Commerce, Government of Madhya Pradesh; Union Ministry of Micro, Medium and Small Industries

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Ratlam District Collector Ruchika Chauhan declined to comment when contacted by LCW.

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Madhya Pradesh Audyogik Kendra VIkas Nigam (Ujjain) Limited (A Government of Madhya Pradesh company)

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of Corporate Authorities Approached

Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Adivasi Ekta Maha Sabha

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:
No Images Available

Documented By

Nihar Gokhale

Reviewed By

Nihar Gokhale

Updated By

Nihar Gokhale

Edited By

Nihar GokhaleLand Conflict Watch

Support our work

Your contribution ensures continuity of this crucial project.

As a member, you will get exclusive access to special reports, policy papers and research projects undertaken by Land Conflict Watch and behind-the-scenes interactions with the writers and researchers about their work.
Contribute Now