The state-run Gujarat Power Corporation Limited (GPCL) had acquired 2,059 hectare of land of nearly a dozen villages in Gogha taluka in the 1990s for the purpose of setting up a 2X250MW lignite-based thermal power plant. The plant is to be set up by Bhavnagar Energy Company Limited (BECL) and promoted by GPCL at Padra village of Ghogha taluka. However, with the government seeking possession of the land after over two decades, the farmers have been taken aback.
According to farmers, they have been cultivating the land which is very fertile. They further alleged that BECL also wanted to acquire village pasture land, which is not permissible under the law. The GPCL had acquired land in two batches — 1,355 hectare in Ghogha-Surka block and 704 hectare of Kharliya block in late 1990s for the power plant. However, company did not start the work and the land continued to be cultivated by original owners. Now, GPCL plans to acquire 914 hectare more in Kharliya-2 block for the power plant, which will be build by its subsidiary BECL.
A farmer Revantsinh Gohil, who led the agitation, said, “After two decades, all of a sudden the company officials came with machines to start construction. As per the rule, if the land is not used for the project for over five years, the acquired land should be handed over to original owners. We want our land back or company should pay compensation as per current prevailing rate and law.”
Senior executive of GPCL and agent for the project Rajkumar Raisinghani told media persons, “When the land was acquired (two decades ago), the farmers were given compensation that was five times higher that the market rate. We have rights of this land. I have received representation from farmers and I will forward it to the higher management.” He added that the project cost, which was Rs 3,500 crore, has reached Rs 5,000 crore now.”
Bhavnagar collector Harshad Patel told TOI: “The land was acquired by GPCL and farmers were given compensation two decades ago. The land belongs to the company, but farmers are agitating since last 2-3 days, demanding more compensation. They have sought time to approach the new government and courts.”
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