On January 2, 2019, a protest against limestone mining by 2,000 people in Mahuva tehsil in Bhavnagar district turned violent as the dissenting residents clashed with the police and pelted stones, injuring four policemen. Many farmers were also injured as the police lobbed teargas shells to control the crowd.
This is the eighth protest in the past seven months. On December 26, 2018, around 1,000 farmers in 11 villages of Talaja and Mahuva tehsils protested to force UltraTech Cement Limited to suspend its limestone mining operations in their villages. They claim that limestone mining is a threat to their agriculture and livelihood. The 11 villages comprise 70,00080,000 people.
In February 2019, residents of six villages in Bhavnagar observed a twoday shutdown to protest against limestone mining in their district. They claim that mining is causing the groundwater to turn saline, making their agricultural lands infertile. The Gujarat High Court has directed a magistrate's court in Bhavnagar to register an FIR against policemen who cracked down on peacefully protesting farmers
Ultratech received clearance for mining from the state government in January 2018, despite protests from several villagers. The company had acquired 1,714ha of land in the district between 1999 and 2001 for mining limestone and supplying it to its cement plant in Rajula tehsil in neighbouring Amreli district. Of this, around 1,640ha was private agricultural land, while the remaining was government wasteland.
The company has also been trying to start mining from its 193ha BambhorTalli lease area in Talaja tehsil but has faced resistance from farmers here as well as they claim the land is fertile agricultural land.
During the grant of clearance, the company was ordered to rehabilitate 147 families and provide a house to each family, bearing a total expenditure of Rs.12.25 crore or as per the norms of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, whichever is higher. The affected people allege that Ultratech has so far not offered any rehabilitation or compensation to them.