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Gujarat Govt to reclaim 108 hectares of grazing land from Adani in Kutch

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BHUJ : The Gujarat Government on Friday told the high court that it has decided to reclaim 108 hectares of land from Adani Port and Special Economic Zone (APSEZ) and restore it as grazing land, ending a 13-year-old dispute over the allocation of land in Mundra’s Navinal village in Kutch district.

A bench of Chief Justice Sunita Agarwal and Justice Pranav Trivedi told the government to implement this decision and fixed July 26 as the next date of hearing to review the implementation of the government decision.

The case originated in 2011 when residents of Navinal village approached the High Court of Gujarat challenging the allocation of 231 acres of grazing land to Mundra Port and SEZ Ltd. (now known as APSEZ Ltd) in 2005.

Advocate Anand Yagnik who appeared for the villagers argued that this allocation left them with insufficient grazing land for their cattle.

It was contended by the villagers that there was a serious shortage of grazing land after the state government decided to allocate 231 out of 276 acres of grazing land to APSEZL, leaving them with only 45 acres of land for grazing. The villagers also argued that the allocation of this land was illegal because the government resolution only allowed the allocation of land for industrial uses if there was excess grazing land. It was emphasised that the villagers were already running short of grazing land for the cattle and the common land, which was a community recourse, could not be privatised.

To be sure, the original public interest litigation was disposed of in 2014 following the state’s promise to allocate additional land and a subsequent review petition by the state in 2015 citing reduced available land. Contempt proceedings were subsequently initiated on a petition by the farmers, which the high court was hearing.

In affidavits filed by Gujarat’s additional Chief Secretary Manoj Kumar Das and the Kutch district collector, the government told the high court on Friday that the state government on July 4 sanctioned a proposal to reclaim the land from APSEZ Ltd. This land is intended to replenish the grazing land for Navinal village.

The court reviewed the affidavits and directed the state to implement its decision quickly. Senior advocate Mihir Thakor, appearing for APSEZL, objected to the court’s directions, arguing that the state government could not reclaim land already allotted to APSEZL two decades ago and that such directions would infringe upon the company’s rights.

The bench told the company to file a separate petition if it wanted to challenge the government’s decision.

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