Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Land acquisition for MPSEZ legal: High court

AHMEDABAD: The state government's acquisition of gauchar land for Adani group's Mundra Port and Special Economic Zone ( MPSEZ) was not illegal. The Gujarat high court has disposed off a PIL by Zarpara villagers, which said 1,000 acres had been illegally acquired by the government.

A bench headed by the chief justice observed that the village panchayat cannot reverse its decision of allowing the acquisition some years later. The panchayat had passed a resolution in 2007, sactioning the acquisition of 1,000 acres at Rs 11 per square metre. The district collector followed all procedures and the company paid Rs 4.42 crore for the land, Rs 1.32 crore as premium and conversion tax of Rs 2.41 crore at Rs 6 per square metre.

However, after the 2010 local body elections, the new panchayat passed a resolution demanding the land back on the ground that the allocation was illegal as there is no public interest in giving gauchar land to a private company. The villagers approached the high court in 2008.

Pulling up the panchayat, the high court observed that the issue had been decided by a unanimous resolution and could not be reopened after so many years.

The bench, however, recommended to the state government that the villagers be given land for grazing cattle from wasteland which can be calculated at 100 acres per 40 cattle. If there is no wasteland available around the village, the government can give the villagers the Rs 1.32 crore premium deposited by the company.

Interestingly, Shiracha villagers living nearby, had also approached the high court with similar contentions but agreed to an out-of-court settlement for Rs 22 crore.

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