Government Bows to High Court Order: Reclaims 100 Hectares from Adani for Mundra New Residents

In 2011, around 12 petitioners from Navinal village in Mundra Taluka, Kutch, filed a public interest litigation in the Gujarat High Court. They needed 200 to 300 acres of land for grazing. At that time, villagers had only 40 acres. In 2013, the government promised to provide 1331 acres but later stated they had only 8 acres. The issue reached the Supreme Court.

This year, Chief Justice Sunita Agarwal and Justice Pranav Trivedi’s bench ordered the grazing land to be returned to the villagers. Adani will now have to return this land, and approximately 100 hectares will be given back to the people of Navinal.

Adani Mundra Port-SEZ Led to Loss of Grazing Land

In 2011, about 12 petitioners from Navinal village in Mundra Taluka, Kutch, filed a public interest litigation in the Gujarat High Court. They claimed that the village’s grazing land had been given to Adani Mundra Port and Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in 2005, leaving no grazing land for the village. Hence, they applied for grazing land. Following various hearings, the central government also formed a committee.

Government Filed a Review Petition

Industries under the Special Economics Zone were also assessed for their impact on forests, wildlife, mangroves, etc. The High Court noted that in a hot region like Kutch, grazing land is essential for livestock. Initially, the government promised adequate grazing land for villagers affected by the SEZ but later said only a small amount could be provided and that it couldn’t comply with the High Court order. The government filed a review petition, taking the matter to the Supreme Court, which directed the High Court to make a decision based on merit.

Government Provided 276 Acres of Navinal Land

The government had given about 276 acres of Navinal village land to Mundra Port, while the village needed 310 acres of grazing land for its livestock. The government stated before Chief Justice Sunita Agarwal and Justice Pranav Trivedi’s bench that Navinal village has over 700 animals at times. Villagers could receive a total of 129 hectares of land. The court requested affidavits from the Revenue Department Secretary and Collector. It was also determined that this 129 hectares wouldn’t include forest land. The court noted that grazing land is for the people’s use.

Proposal to Allocate Grazing Land 8 km Away Rejected by HC

The government proposed to allocate grazing land, but since the land in question was 7-8 kilometers away from the village, the High Court rejected the proposal. The High Court stated that considering the geographical area and temperature of Kutch, it is impossible for animals to travel 7-8 kilometers. The court remarked that grazing land cannot be allocated to anyone. The court emphasized that government policies should benefit the people and took a strict stance against Adani, stating that the government’s advocate should not act as Adani’s lawyer.

Adequate Grazing Land to be Taken from Adani and Given to the Village

The government decided that adequate grazing land would be taken from Adani and allocated to the village. The court directed that the land should be actually handed over, not just on paper. Adani’s lawyer opposed the court’s order, stating that the land was purchased in 2005. If the government wants to acquire the land, they need to follow the acquisition process as a copper factory has already been set up there. However, the High Court dismissed Adani’s lawyer’s plea, stating that the 2005 government decision was wrong and is now being corrected. The court mentioned that Adani’s challenge to the government’s resolution would not be entertained.

282 Acres of Land to be Allocated to Navinal

Advocate Anand Yagnik, representing the villagers, stated that when the current Prime Minister of India was the Chief Minister of Gujarat in 2005, about 2600 acres of grazing land from 17 out of 22 villages in the Adani SEZ were given away at a nominal price. Initially, it went unnoticed, but as people became aware, they started challenging it. Navinal Gram Panchayat in Mundra Taluka, one of the 22 villages in Adani SEZ, challenged the resolution in Gujarat High Court in 2011, stating that while they needed 200-300 acres, only 40 acres were allocated to them. The villagers questioned the reasonableness of giving away 231-270 acres in 2005, as their village was left with no grazing land, making it difficult for their livestock.

In 2013, the Gujarat government under Narendra Modi issued a resolution stating that 231 acres were given, but more than 1331 acres were returned. In 2014, after Narendra Modi won the Lok Sabha elections and became Prime Minister, the Gujarat government filed a review petition, stating that they did not have 1331 acres and could only provide 8 acres. The High Court accepted the review, but the villagers went to the Supreme Court, which directed the Gujarat High Court to consider and make a final decision on the matter.

Gujarat High Court Orders Return of Land to Villagers

In 2024, the case was presented before Chief Justice Sunita Agarwal and Justice Pranav Trivedi. The bench remarked that the grazing land belongs to the people, not the government. The 2005 decision to sell the land was illegal, and the same amount of land given to Adani SEZ must be returned to the villagers. The government proposed allocating land 7 kilometers away, which the villagers opposed, arguing that livestock cannot graze 7 kilometers away, and Adani’s boundaries would come in between. The High Court agreed, stating that if grazing land within the village is not allocated, the land given to Adani must be returned. The Gujarat government complied with the High Court’s order from April 19, 2024, and decided to allocate 282 acres of land from Adani and their own holdings to Navinal village for grazing purposes.

Niyati Rao

Niyati Rao is a seasoned writer and avid consumer who specializes in crafting informative and engaging articles and product reviews. With a passion for research and a knack for finding the best deals, Niyati enjoys helping readers make informed decisions about their purchases.