Two news items in today’s Saurashtra Samachar (2-April-18) drew my attention and I wish to share the same for wider readership. This is mainly to highlight the Gujarat model of development and its impact on common people and farmers. Excerpts from the Gujarati newspaper translated here:
1. The caption under the photo of a the long queue of girls and women with their water pots, reads:
“This is not a picture to frighten but to open our eyes... the women of the Tava Village in the Kavat Taluka of Chhotaudaipur [Gujarat], are having to run hither and thither for water. There are only two bore wells for a population of 1500 villagers. However as the ground water table has gone down drastically, the bore wells are operational only for 15-20 minutes. Along with women, little girls have to run here and there from one bore well to another for water...only ten to twelve pots of water are available. Most return back disheartened. There are twenty seven hand pumps in the village and an over head tank of 30 thousand liters and yet the water tank has not been filled even once...”
[ this news is particularly significant as the Chotaudaipur area of Gujarat is predominately a adivasi/tribal area and close to the Sardar Sarovar Dam site, one of the largest dams in the country inaugurated by the Prime Minister in 2017 with great fanfare with a promise of water for everyone across the state of Gujarat right up to the far away Kutch and Saurashtra. But people close to the dam are deprived of water for even domestic use!]
2. The second news : "Heavy lathis on farmers...Friction between ten thousand farmers and the police..:
“ ... Police fired 50 tear gas shells when farmers protested the taking over of lands acquired twenty two years ago by Gujarat Power Corporation Limited (GPCL). Officers of the GPCL and the police came to the villages Badi-Padva to take over lands acquired twenty two years ago in the Ghogha Taluka of Bhavnagar district [Gujarat]. Over ten thousand farmers including women of twelve villages assembled to protest the taking over of the lands...To control them, the police lathi charged and fired fifty tear gas shells. Police have detained fifty farmers including five women and five students... seven hundred police belonging to Bhavnagar, Botad and Amreli had reached Badi Padva to take over lands acquired twenty two years ago. Before this, the collector had announced the closure of internet services in the area. The villagers had assembled in lager numbers to oppose the police who had come to take over the lands. Two thermal plants are being started by GPCL for which 2059 hectares of lands from twelve villages were acquired between the years 1984 to 1997. However the possessions of the lands were not taken. As per the 2014 law, if the lands are not taken over within five years of acquisition then the farmers have to be returned the lands...The leader of Khedut Sangharsh Samiti (Farmer Struggle Organisation), Kanaksingh Gohil said that:
'if lands acquired from farmers are not taken over within five years, the farmers receive the lands back as per the new law of 2014...We are going to file review petitions in the High Court and the Supreme Court soon. Under such circumstances to snatch away lands from the farmers at gun point is inhuman and unjust...'"
In the meantime readers must have already seen photos of women struggling for drinking water in Morbi, Gujarat in the Indian express today. For those who may have missed: