Mahuva Weeps, Nirma Smiles, in Narendra Bhai’s Gujarat.

Sushma Swaraj, leader of the opposition in Parliament, tore into the UPA government on the issue of price rise terming the whole thing as a major scam that needs to be investigated. She ended her speech by reportedly calling on the government to pay attention to “Gross National Happiness, instead of mere growth figures”. She would do well to direct her attention with equal force and vigour to what is happening in Gujarat where Narendra Modi’s BJP government is in power. While she saw scams in the food price rise, she studiedly ignored the systematic attempts across the nation by governments of every party to forcibly possess fertile agricultural lands for diversion to SEZs, mining and industries. Mahuva region in the District of Bhavnagar of Gujarat has arguably among the most fertile land where farmers grow three crops per annum, and also export mangoes, coconuts and other fruits. The abundance of farm produce has spun off agro processing units such as vegetable dehydration plants and cotton ginning units. The 51 dehydration plants reportedly employ 10,000 people churning a turnover of Rs. 3 billion; where as the corresponding figures for 18 ginning plants are 3000 people and Rs. 35 billion. The region thus provides livelihood opportunities to about 10,000 farmers, 13,000 agro-industry employees and another 30,000 or odd farm labourers and artisans taking the total over 50,000 people. Recognising the agri-potential of this region the Gujarat government had invested tens of millions of public money during the last decade to build structures for water conversation and to prevent ingress of salinity in this coastal region.
Contrary to its own earlier wisdom, Gujarat government decided to give 8,200 acres (720 for factory + 7,500 for limestone mine) of land in this very area for Nirma’s cement factory that would employ less than 500 people. Naturally, people of this region were horrified when they learnt of this new development devoid of any thought for the welfare of the people whose interests the government is supposed to represent. For over one year people from at least 15 villages have been peacefully resisting the Gujarat government’s move for the ‘enclosure’ of their fertile lands just to benefit a corporate house. This project will destroy the livelihoods of over 50,000 people and eventually pauperize them and force them migrate to cities to eke out a miserable existence. Nobody would acquiesce in being pushed into beggary quietly and neither are these people silent about the assault on their livelihoods. Their grassroots people’s movement is lead by veteran Gandhian, 92 years old Chunibhai Vaidya, Ila Pathak, Prakash Shah, Sanat Bhai Mehta (ex-Finance Minster of Gujarat), Sagar Rabari, Anand Mazgaonkar, and last but not the least current BJP MLA of the area, Dr. Kanubhai Kalsariya.

On 20th and 21st February this year, this is how the government dealt with the democratic and peaceful protests of the people of Mahua, “….After a yearlong nonviolent protest & efforts to make the Government see reason failed 11,500 (yes more than eleven thousand) people signed a petition with their blood requesting it to desist from dispossessing them. On Saturday, 20th February around 8-10 000 people took out a silent march along with the local legislator, Dr Kanubhai Kalsariya. They were attacked by police. At least 10 people were wounded and needed medical attention. Three of them are still (as of Monday, 22nd Feb) in hospital. Seven have been arrested and will probably be charged with crimes that police have actually committed. Then on Sunday, 21st Feb, Dr Kanubhai Kalsariya was attacked by a gang who are suspected to be company goons / security men. both Kanubhai & his wife are in hospital. This is clearly a State sponsored backlash to scare & prevent people from going ahead with the massive march they have planned from Sabarmati Ashram to Gandhinagar (State capital) on 25th February”. This statement erroneously calls the government actionbacklash”, when it should be properly described as a frontal assault on democratic and human rights of these people.

Photos through Satyen Bordoloi
Not satisfied with the violent attack on peaceful protestors, government used every trick up its sleeve to stop the Mahua marchers to proceed from Gandhi’s Sabarmati Ashram to the seat of (Anti-) People’s Power at Gandhinagar; where they wanted to acquaint People’s Representatives of their pain & predicament. 
Photos through Satyen Bordoloi
IE reports, “….The police also detained hundreds of others, mostly villagers, who had come all the way from Mahuva to protest. Dr Kalsaria, Gandhian Chuni Vaidya, former state finance minister Sanat Mehta and hundreds of protesting villagers and supporters were detained in Ahmedabad and across the state. Dr Kalsaria said he wanted to attend the Assembly session to raise the issue and also submit a memorandum thumbed in blood by around 11,000 villagers, to the Chief Minister”. Interestingly the BJP functionaries from Mahua have understood the gravity of the situation and are in the forefront of the agitation against the government led by their own party, “….Publicly, no one in the BJP is willing to reprimand or say anything against Dr Kalsaria and other BJP men who are involved in the agitation. According to sources, the party also does not want to initiate any disciplinary action fearing loss of public face, considering the support the agitation is drawing. “….Initially, there were indirect messages from party functionaries asking us to keep away, but once we got involved into it full time, there is no word from the party,” said Pravin Kathiria, a Mahuva BJP functionary who, along with Mahuva BJP vice-president, 71-year-old Vaman Joshi, were beaten up in December last year while he was going to attend a local protest meeting over the same issue”. Kalsariya added when asked about this contradiction, “Main BJP ka hi MLA hoon, magar yeh anyay mujhse saha nahin jaata”.
From Dantewada (Chhattisgarh), Lalgarh (West Bengal), Jaitapur (Maharashtra), Narayanpatna (Orissa), to Mahuva (Gujarat); or from BJP, Congress, CPM, BJD, to DMK; it doesn’t matter which state or political party is ruling. The message is ominously the same. Mining and Industry is more important than people’s welfare or food. State cares about feeding hungry corporates having bottomless appetites with minerals, raw materials, land, water, forests and other common resources at the cost of the people in whose name they rule. While the talk is of development and progress for the poor & common people, the deeds are aimed at fattening the corporates, the legal persons, by pauperizing the citizenry, the real persons. The duplicity of the state is writ large everywhere. Time to act is now.
Our protests about this ruthless onslaught may be registered with :
1)Dist. Superintendent of Police, Bhavnagar, (91) 99784 05067, (0278) 252 0050 / 256 6333, (R) (0278) 256 3333
2)Collector, Bhavnagar District, (M) 9978406206, (R) (0278) 256 88 66, Fax (0278) 242 7941
3)Shri Amit Shah, Minister of State for Home, Gujarat State, (M) (91)98240 10090, (R) 079-2322 1874 / 2323 2453 / 2325 9661
Activists who may be contacted for more information are :
1)Michael Mazgaonkar 9427188044
2)Swati Mazgaonkar     9429556163
3)Sagar Rabari               9428825927
4)Kapil                            9427054132


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6 Responses to “Mahuva Weeps, Nirma Smiles, in Narendra Bhai’s Gujarat.”

  1. Sayali Says:

    Seriously this is a nation wide action. Wherever there is potential or de facto money making possibilities, it is done. It is absolutely terrible!

  2. makarand Says:

    Facts about the agricultural and ecological status of this region are totally blown up. Bhavnagar Saline Mahuva was never known as agricultural paradise of Gujarat. By the way whole state was never known for agriculture till the same government built 3,00,000 check dam, gunny bag entrenchment etc.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Makarand, BJP government took salt water prevention measures in the region but under the Keshubhai leadership and not Narendra Modi's leadership. Current CM thinks he is a CEO of Gujarat and only plans for the benefits of other corporate CEOs. Also, havent you heard about the famous title Mahuva has been given- 'Kashmir of Saurashtra'?If it was not fertile with prospering agriculture, it would never have gotten this title. So for your kind reference none of the facts about agricultural and ecological status of Mahuva region are blown up and I think people will trust me little bit more because I have been born and brought up in Mahuva.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Mr.Makarand, BJP government took salt water prevention measures in the region but under the Keshubhai leadership and not Narendra Modi's leadership. Current CM thinks he is a CEO of Gujarat and only plans for the benefits of other corporate CEOs. Also, havent you heard about the famous title Mahuva has been given- 'Kashmir of Saurashtra'?If it was not fertile with prospering agriculture, it would never have gotten this title. So for your kind reference none of the facts about agricultural and ecological status of Mahuva region are blown up and I think people will trust me little bit more because I have been born and brought up in Mahuva. Priya Sharma

  5. Anonymous Says:

    The pictures and the report are tarrible.I am satisfied that there is no enviornment law enforcement in Gujarat apart from the Human Right Laws.The Police Department in Gujarat is occupied mostly by upper castes and 'Darabars',who were,earlier the rulers of the earstwhile princly states.So,they have got the mentallity to crush.Crush the genuine,democratic voice of the people.They have the mindset of the Autocrat.You cant just grab land from the poor farmers.Only because you have got the Land Acqistion Act on your side.Therefor,your so called "dynamic" bereaucracy goes to connive with one of the industrial houses and "LEGALLY"grabs the land from the poor farmers.The bereaucracy in India still has the mindset of ugly 1975 "EMERGENCY",when they got the powers of Gods.The Attorney Generel argued in favour of eliminating people by the police !!!! I hereby appeal to the United Nations and the International Human Rights Organisations that,they must check the credibility of the so called "democracy" in India.If they examine,they would surely conclude that the people of india are still not independent from corruption,malpractices,human rights violation etc.

  6. Bharat Jadav Says:

    thise is too much……Hitalar shahi……atlist media have to coverage thise and saw it to Gujaraties and indians……..

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