A rally of over 5000 farmers protesting against construction of a cement plant on wetland in the Bhavnagar district, Gujarat, is continuing almost into its second week.
Led by BJP’s Mahuva MLA Kanubhai, the rally started on 3 March and has travelled a distance of 350km on foot in protest the Nirma cement plant.
Nirma was allotted 268ha to establish a cement plant as well as more than 3,000ha for mining leases in the surrounding areas across the coastline in Bhavnagar district.
The farmers from 12 villages in Bhavnagar district had last year filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Gujarat High Court opposing the project, alleging that out of 268ha of land allotted to the company, 222ha was part of a natural wetland. The farmers had said that if allowed, the upcoming plant would destroy their agriculture and animal husbandry.
The High Court, however, allowed Nirma to go ahead with construction activities at the site rejecting the PIL.
The issue is now pending in the Supreme Court after the farmers challenged the HC order.
Nirma, on its part, had already surrendered 100ha of land out of 268 hectares to the government.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Environment on March 12 ordered “permanent suspension of work” with regard to the 1.9Mta plant, along with its captive power plant near Padhiarka village in Mahuva taluka of Bhavnagar district.