Kharai Camel Breeders Demand Termination of Salt Pan Leases in Coastal Gujarat

Reported by

Aditi PatilLand Conflict Watch

Last updated on

November 18, 2020

Location of Conflict

Bhachau

,

Kutch

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Other Kind of Land Use

Camel breeding

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

380

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

304

ha

State

Gujarat

Sector

Land Use

The Kutch Camel Breeders Association (KCBA) filed a petition in 2017 with the National Green Tribunal (NGT) alleging that mangrove forests along coastal Gujarat were being cleared in a rampant manner by the authorities in violation of the provisions of the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification of 2011. The petition says that the destruction of mangroves not only violates the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, but also deprives the indigenous Kharai camel species of its major food source, thereby affecting the livelihoods of several hundred camel breeders in the region. Breeders from Bhachau to Gandhidham, who together own about 700 camels, alleged that food for the camels has become scarce. Kharai camel is a unique breed of camel found only in Kutch, which can swim in seawater and survives on mangroves. According to news reports, KCBA President Bhikhabhai Rabari claims that salt pan leaseholders have blocked the creek in the Gulf of Kutch to produce salt and, as a result, mangroves have been devoid of seawater, which is essential for their survival. He alleges that the leaseholders used to work outside the creek area earlier but they now produce salt inside the creek where dense mangroves are present. On March 19, 2018, the NGT issued show-cause notices to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), the Gujarat Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA) and the State Forest Department. However, despite the NGT's order and cancellation of lease by the Kutch district collector, work on salt pans continues inside the creek. On April 7, the camel breeders submitted a memorandum to the Deendayal Port Trust against salt production and leasing of salt pans. On August 1, the NGT ordered the Gujarat Pollution Control Board to reopen the tidal creek, which had been sealed off by the salt companies, so that seawater could reach the mangroves and prevent further damage. About 600 kilometres away, Aliya Bet in the delta of the Narmada River would have served as a good source of food for the camels as the area has good-quality grass. But potable water is no longer available there with the building of a dam upstream.  In September 2019, the NGT ordered the authorities to find those responsible for the degradation and levy environmental charges on them for restoration of the damaged mangroves.  Earlier in 2020, the KCBA had filed a plea alleging that the Deen Dayal Port Trust had not executed the order of the NGT to protect mangroves from destruction. In September, the NGT asked the MoEFCC and the Gujarat government to recover the fine from violators.

Region Classification

Urban and Rural

Type of Land

Common

Private and Common

Type of Common Land

Forest

Total investment involved (in Crores):

Type of investment:

Land Area Affected
(in Hectares):

304

ha

Starting Year

2018

Government Bodies Involved in the Conflict:

Deen Dayal Port Trust, Gujarat State Coastal Zone Management Authority

Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Resources Related to Conflict

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