Friday, March 23, 2018

2,754 Gujarat villages have no grazing land, government admits

TNN|March 21, 2018

GANDHINAGAR: The BJP-led Gujarat government which makes tall claims about its protection of cows, told the assembly by a written submission that 2,754 villages in Gujarat have no gauchar land (community land for grazing of cows and other animals).

In reply to starred questions by Congress MLAs, the revenue minister stated, “A total of 2,754 villages in the state do not have any gauchar land. The most such villages, 318, are in Chhota Udepur district, followed by Dang (310), Mahisagar (225), Valsad (216), Narmada (206) and Banaskantha (197) districts.

Paresh Dhanani, leader of the opposition, said, “Two and a half years ago the Gujarat government told the assembly that 2,625 villages had no gauchar land. Now it says there are 2,754 such villages, which means 129 villages lost their gauchar land in the last two and a half years. The Gujarat government, makes tall claims about the protection of cows but it has sold gauchar land for its own benefit.”

In a written reply to various Congress MLAs, the state panchayats and rural development minister accepted that 4,725 hectares of gauchar land in 33 districts has been encroached upon. The government also conceded that 57.54 hectares of gauchar land in the Gir sanctuary was encroached upon before 1987-88 and these encroachments have still not been removed.

A January 2011 order of the Supreme Court put strict restrictions on the sale of gauchar land and directed that encroachments on such land be removed.

The Supreme Court order said, “Pastoral land and other community resources belonging to a village shall not be given for industrial or commercial use and should strictly meant for the community’s use”.

The SC had directed all state governments to formulate plans for eviction of illegal/unauthorized occupants of land meant for gram sabhas, gram panchayats and other community use and said that “long duration of such illegal occupation or huge expenditure on constructions thereon or political connections must not be treated as a justification for condoning this illegal act or for regularizing the illegal possession”.