Farmers Protest against GPCL's Power Plant in Gujarat's Bhavnagar, Police Use Teargas

Reported by

Aditi PatilLand Conflict Watch

Last updated on

August 5, 2021

Location of Conflict

Ghogha

Bhavnagar

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Thermal Power Plant

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

1250

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

2980

ha

Starting Year

2017

State

Gujarat

Sector

Power

Gujarat Power Corporation Limited (GPCL) had acquired 2,059 hectares of land of nearly a dozen villages in Gogha tehsil in the [1990s](http://Gujarat Power Corporation Limited, Bhavnagar Energy Company Limited) for the purpose of setting up a 2X250 megawatt lignitebased thermal power plant. The plant is to be set up by Bhavnagar Energy Company Limited (BECL) and promoted by GPCL in Padra village in Ghogha tehsil. However, with the government seeking possession of the land after over two decades, the farmers have been taken aback. The protesting farmers who have been cultivating this land claim that it is fertile. They further allege that BECL also wanted to acquire village pasture land, which is not permissible under the law. The GPCL had acquired land in two batches 1,355 hectares in GhoghaSurka block and 704 hectares in Kharliya block in the late 1990s for the power plant. However, the company did not start the work and the land continued to be cultivated by the original land owners. The government has acquired the land in Badi, Padva, Hoidal, Malekvadar, Morsal, Thoradi, Rampar, Surka, Alapar, Khadasaliya, Thadsar and Lakhanka villages. A farmer, Revantsinh Gohil, who led the agitatation, said, "All of a sudden after two decades, the company officials came with machines to start construction. As per the rule, if the land is not used for the project for over five years, the acquired land should be handed over to its original owners." In December 2017, around 100 farmers from 12 villages in Gogha protested against the state's move to take possession of their land. The farmers demanded that the land be returned to them or they be given compensation as per the current prevailing law. GPCL has reportedly told the media that the farmers were paid compensation five times higher than the market rate two decades ago and that the company has rights to the land and also representation from the farmers. On April 1, 2018, the farmers clashed with the GPCL team and police in Padva and Badi villages, forcing the cops to lob at least 40 teargas shells and resort to lathicharge. At least 50 farmers were detained. The GPCL team had gone there with earth movers to begin mining of lignite. The farmers wanted GPCL to wait till the high court disposed of the matter. As a mark of protest, on April 3, 2018, parents of around 900 children withdrew the admission of their wards from school. The villagers fear after their land is acquired, they will have to do odd labour jobs and would not be able to fund the education of their children. They have even submitted applications seeking school leaving certificates. On April 8, around 2,000 farmers were protesting nonviolently in Bedi against GPCL's possession of the land. They had come with plans to give roses to police personnel and government officials. But the police used two rounds of teargas shells to disperse the crowd. On April 24, over 5,000 farmers and their families from Ghogha wrote to the president and the prime minister requesting "ichha mrityu" (mass euthanasia) as their land was forcibly acquired by GPCL. The farmers in their letter requested to be gunned down by Indian Armed Forces. About 50 people from the 12 villages sat on hunger strike in Badi village every day. However, the land was acquired despite the protests, and mining commenced even as farmers filed a legal case challenging the acquisition and possession of the land. Between December 2019 and December 2020, the farmers complained elevated lands and cracked surfaces caused by mining in the area acquired. But GPCL authorities claimed that the elevation was due to the pressure of water in the upper strata of land in the region. In January 2021, the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) issued a showcause notice to GPCL for operating a lignite mining site in Bhavnagar district allegedly in violation of various environmental rules, regulations and statutory provisions. In a recent letter to various state and Union authorities, Rohit Prajapati and Krishnakant from Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti have[ demanded](http://Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti) that GPCB issue a closure notice to GPCL and immediately stop the mining activity at the site because of its harmful effect on groundwater, farmlands, air, agriculture and health of the village residents and livestock. Between November 2020 and March 2021, the nonprofit has submitted seven letters, but the GPCB is yet to take action.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand to get back acquired land, Demand for compensation

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Private

Type of Common Land

Total investment involved (in Crores):

5000

Type of investment:

Cost of Project

Year of Estimation

2017

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Land Acquisition Laws, Environmental Laws

Legislations/Policies Involved

  1. Land Acquisition Act, 1894

    Section 4: [Publication of preliminary notification regarding acquisition]; Section 6: [Declaration that land is required for a public purpose]

  2. Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013

    Section 24(2): [If an award was made under the 1894 Act more than five years prior to the 2013 Act, but possession was not taken, then those proceedings will have deemed to lapse]

  3. Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981

    Section 31(A) read with Section 21: [Empowers the state pollution control authority to show cause notice for violations of the Act]

  4. Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution Act, 1974

    Section 33(A) read with Section 25/26: [Empowers the state pollution control authority to show cause notice for violations of the Act]

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:

Legal Status:

In Court

Status of Case In Court

Pending

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

High Court of Gujarat, Supreme Court of India

Case Number

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

Lathi charge/tear gas/pellets

Whether criminal law was used against protestors

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

Reported Details of the Violation:

Around 2,000 farmers were protesting non-violently against GPCL's possession of the land. They had come with plans to give roses to police personnel and government officials. But the police allegedly used two rounds of teargas shells to disperse the crowd.

Date of Violation

April 8, 2018

Location of Violation

Bedi village

Nature of Protest

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Gujarat Pollution Control Board

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Gujarat Power Corporation Limited, Bhavnagar Energy Company Limited

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

No

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of Corporate Authorities Approached

Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti

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

Aditi Patil

Reviewed By

Aditi Patil

Updated By

Aditi Patil

Edited By

Aditi PatilLand Conflict Watch
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