Ten years on, Maldharis await compensation for lands acquired for Charanka solar park in Gujarat

Reported by

Rejitha Nair

Legal Data by

Anmol Gupta, Mukta Joshi

Edited by

Radhika Chatterjee

Updated by

Published on

July 21, 2022

July 21, 2022

Updated on

July 21, 2022

Location of Conflict

Charanka

Patan

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Renewable Power

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

Households Affected by Conflict

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

2179

ha

Starting Year

2011

State

Gujarat

Sector

Power

The Charanka solar park, once touted to be Asia's largest solar park, was launched in 2010. The Gujarat Power Corporation Limited (GPCL) was in-charge of setting up the plant. Spread across 5365 acres of land, the solar park has a capacity of 600 MW. The project was expected to usher in a new era of renewable energy, generating employment and building infrastructure for neighbouring villages. The villagers were promised jobs, roads, free electricity, and clean water. A decade has passed since the solar park's inauguration but many of those promises have not been fulfilled. Only a handful of people have received jobs at the park, primarily as security guards, while common water resources in the area have been fenced off by GPCL, reducing access to drinking water for animals. Developmental activities too are yet to take off.
 
The project affected two key groups of people: pastoral community members or Maldharis of the area and land owners affected by the project. Maldhari community members have been opposing the park as it is constructed on their grasslands which they have traditionally used for grazing their animals. Speaking to media organisations, Maldharis have objected to the fact that grasslands had been marked as 'unused land' by the government. According to the GPCL website, the solar park is spread across 'unused' land and 'wastelands'. But as per the project map, 2000 acres of the acquired land was under cultivation, and the rest was government land. The solar park's construction has reduced their access to grazing resources, causing several Maldharis to give up on livestock rearing, and rely on daily wage jobs to sustain themselves. They were neither compensated nor accounted for by the government while lands were acquired for this project.

The land owners had filed a public interest litigation in the High Court of Gujarat in 2012, demanding an investigation in the manner in which land acquisition was carried out by GPCL for the project. The land owners alleged that many parcels of land were purchased by a few individuals from the villagers and were later acquired by GPCL within a year at extremely high prices, thus enabling those individuals in making huge profits. Compensation awarded for the land parcels was in some instances 200 times higher than the price it was bought from the original landowner. The petitioners alleged foul play between GPCL and the individuals who had purchased lands from the original landowners. The High Court ordered an investigation into the petitioners' allegation. Based on the findings of the investigation, the High Court concluded in 2012 that the compensation awarded by GPCL was based on established rules and procedures and the higher price accounts for the premium given to the landowners for their consent. The court also observed that there was no proof of any coercion or fraud in sales by the original landlord, and the case was dismissed on these grounds.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand for compensation

Demand for legal recognition of land rights

Demand to retain/protect access to common land/resources

Demand for employment

Other Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Common and Private

Type of Common Land

Non-Forest (Grazing Land)

Total investment involved (in Crores):

5365

Type of investment:

Investment Made

Year of Estimation

2018

Page Number In Investment Document:

Has the Conflict Ended?

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Legislations/Policies Involved

Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013
Section 23 [Collector to pass an award for compensation of land in accordance with certain parameters]   Section 26 [Collector to determine market value of land by assessing consented amount of compensation agreed upon]   Section 28 [Parameters used by Collector in determination of award to include market value as under Section 26]
Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006
Section 2 (c) [Definition of forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes includes Scheduled Tribe pastoralist communities] Section 3(1)(d) [Forest rights to include access to grazing lands to nomadic or pastoralist communities] Section 4(8) [Forest rights to include right of land to communities which were displaced from their dwelling and cultivation without land compensation due to state development interventions]
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  7. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

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:

Controversial land acquisition by the government

Non-implementation/violation of FRA

Violation of free prior informed consent

Non-implementation/violation of LARR Act

Delay in compensation

Non-payment of compensation/promised compensation

Legal Status:

In Court

Status of Case In Court

Disposed

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

Yes

Name of the adjudicatory body

High Court of Gujarat

Name(s) of the Court(s)

High Court of Gujarat

Case Number

Writ Petition No. 234 of 2012

Main Reasoning/Decision of court

A writ petition was filed in public interest before the Gujarat High Court, challenging the land acquisition by Gujarat Power Corporation Limited for this project. The primary contention was that GPCL, a government company, acquired land for setting up a solar park – part of which was allotted by the state government and rest from individual land owners. The Petitioners alleged that some of this land was purchased by some individuals at a throwaway price and later resold to GPCL at a much higher rate. The grievance raised by the Petitioners was through this process, there was a huge public loss to the public exchequer. On March 12, 2015, the Court disposed of the case through an oral judgment. It stated that the difference in compensation arose because of three separate methods adopted in the proceedings: acquisition of land belonging to the government, acquisition by way of consent award and acquisition by way of regular award under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in land acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. The Court noted that the respondent company (GPCL) had paid a rate of Rs. 110/- per sq. mt. to the government for its land. According to the Court, GPCL later developed the plots and gave them to the developers for establishing solar power parks at a rate of Rs. 194/- per sq. mt. This is decided as evidence of no loss being caused to the public exchequer. For the rest of the private land, the Court concluded that the consent award and regular awards passed by the Land Acquisition officer were in accordance with the law, and that GPCL had simply availed of a higher market value as compared to what was paid to the agriculturalists originally.

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

Displacement

Whether criminal law was used against protestors:

No

Reported Details of the Violation:

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest

Objections as part of official procedures

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Smt. Mamta Verma (Chairperson of Gujarat Power Corporation Ltd) Supreet Singh Gulati (Collector of Patan)

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Gujarat Power Corporation Limited

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Communities/Local Organisations in the Conflict:

Laljibhai Desai (National Head of the Congress Sevadal)

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:

Image Credit:  

Image Credit:  

Asia's largest solar park functioning in Patan BUT no electricity for nearby villages - TV9 Gujarati

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Reviewed By

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Updated By

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