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Gujarat’s Development Masks Other Realities

by Rohit Prajapati, Trupti Shah, 13 January 2009

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Press Release
- 13 January 2009

  • The success story of the two digit growth has masked the several digit realities of loss of livelihood, land acquisition, displacement and permanent loss of natural resources which are treated as free goods in this process.
  • The investment figure without the displacement and depletion of natural resources figure and the employment figure without loss of livelihood does not make sense. – Rohit Prajapati and Dr. Trupti Shah
  • No wise person would talk about the income without talking the cost of acquiring that income or wealth.

In the midst of the euphoria created by the investment flooding in to Gujarat and lakhs of new jobs likely to be created we would like to draw the attention of the 5.5 crore of Gujaratis that this is only one side of the story.

The success story of the two digit growth has masked the several digit realities of loss of livelihood, land acquisition, displacement and permanent loss of natural resources, which are treated as free goods in this process. The investment figure without the displacement and depletion of natural resources figure and the employment figure without loss of livelihood does not make sense. No wise person would talk about the income without talking the cost of acquiring that income or wealth.

It is a shocking fact that we have never tried to arrive at even a realistic estimate of these figures but the magnitude of the loss can be guessed from some of the facts emerging from various important research works. This is just a tip of iceberg.

Development-Induced Displacement in Gujarat 1947-2004 report prepared by Dr. Lancy Lobo and Shashikant Kumar of Centre for Culture and Development clearly indicates that there are 4,00,000 households displaced and affected in Gujarat during 57 years of Independence, amounting to 5% of the total population of Gujarat from developmental projects such as water resource related, transport and communications, industries, mines, defence, sanctuaries, human resource related, government offices, tourism and so on. This report further indicates that a total of 33,00,000 hectares of land has been acquired during 1947-2004 as computed from 80,000 Gazette notifications of the government of Gujarat and from Land Acquisition Departments from 25 Collectorates through RTI Act. This figure does not include the land acquired and people affected by the most controversial project Sardar Sarovar Dam [Narmada]. The acquisition of land was not based on the market value of the land but by bypassing all the rules of market mechanism.

This figure of displaced also does not include the people who were dependent on land for their livelihood but were not the owner of the land. Thus real figure of loss of livelihood may even cross the figure of 50,00,000. We hope that this figure is not negligible for the Government of Gujarat.

2007 and now in 2009 vibrant Gujarat summit is talking about huge investment but is silent on the issue of land acquisition and loss of livelihood because of the land “acquisition”.

We would like to inform 5.5 Crore Gujaratis that because of haphazard industrialisation, Gujarat has a number of industrial pollution Hot-Spots, where pollution levels are critical in surface water, groundwater and air. Ankleshwar, Vapi, Nandesari and Vatva are some such Hot-Spots.

However, no zoning atlas is available for heavily industrialised districts in the Golden Corridor, where, in addition to existing industries, the Government has planned a number of Mega chemicals Industrial Estates.

In Gujarat, groundwater is the major source of drinking water in several talukas including those with a high concentration of industries. This groundwater has been contaminated in some areas of about 74 talukas out of 184 talukas. Some of them are in the Golden Corridor - areas along the Kharicut Canal near Ahmedabad, areas around Ankleshwar Industrial Estate, some areas along ECP, and the areas surrounding Vapi which are among the critical polluted areas. The types of groundwater pollutants are TDS, hardness, salinity, chloride, COD, color, heavy metals, and POPs.

Current knowledge of the Gujarat Government on surface and groundwater contamination is very limited. Isolated reports exist of groundwater contamination in industrial areas. Comprehensive studies to identify the contamination of entire aquifers are absent.

Rohit Prajapati
[ROHIT PRAJAPATI]
- ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVIST
- Trupti Shah
- [Dr. TRUPTI SHAH]
- ECONOMIST