Mahuva area in Bhavnagar district has among the most fertile lands in Gujarat. Unlike most of Gujarat and especially Saurashtra region farmers grow three crops, and exports mangoes, coconuts and other fruits. Moreover, the numerous onion dehydrating plants & cotton gins provide employment to at least 10 000 people. That is the region the Government hardsells as the ‘silver corridor’ of industrial development.


People of this fertile & prosperous region were naturally shocked to discover that the Government of Gujarat sanctioned a cement plant by Nirma Ltd. And 288 hectares (720 acres) for the factory + 3000 hectares (7500 acres) for limestone mining, that would employ all of 418 people for an investment of Rs. 2500 crore (Rs. 25 billion). The cement plant will devastate land owners, rob farmers & farm labourers of their livelihoods, pollute the air and destroy the pristine coastal & inland ecology. It was only in the last few years that the Government invested tens of millions of public money to construct structures for water conservation & prevention of salinity ingress in this very area.  


People of at least 15 villages have steadfastly & nonviolently opposed this project over the last one year. The government was forced to appoint a committee to consider people’s opposition. The committee without either visiting the area or listening to the affected people has now given the the company the ‘go-ahead’. This is likely to destroy the lives of around 50 000 people. 


Such destructive projects can only be foisted on people using threat & violence. People’s nonviolent resistance has been met with terror unleashed on affected villagers, especially women. On 13th December ’09 the local legislator, Dr Kanubhai Kalsaria, 92 year old Gandhian Chunibhai Vaidya, Sagar Rabari, Anirudh Jadeja, Lakhan Musafir and Anand Mazgaonkar were prevented from holding a public meeting in Vangar village. Two local leaders Shri Wamanbhai and Pravinbhai Kathiria were beaten up apparently by hired goons, and other villagers were manhandled by the police.  


The police rather than maintaining law and order and facilitating the public meeting  acted as company agents. The situation is grim. The company has started pre-construction activities. Affected people have been forced to try to protect their land & livelihoods and it is their firm resolve to nonviolently resist displacement & dis-employment.


After a year long nonviolent protest & efforts to make the Government see reason failed 11,500 (yes more than eleven thousand people) people signed a petition with their blood requesting it to desist from dispossessing them. On Saturday, 20th February around 8-10 000 people took out a silent march along with the local legislator, Dr Kanubhai Kalsariya. They were attacked by police. At least 10 people were wounded and needed medical attention. Three of them are still ( as of Monday, 22nd Feb) in hospital. Seven have been arrested and will probably be charged with crimes police have actually committed. Then on Sunday, 21st Feb, Dr Kanubhai Kalsariya was attacked by a gang who are suspected to be company goons / security men. both Kanubhai & his wife are in hospital.


This is clearly a State sponsored backlash to scare & prevent people from going ahead with the massive march they have planned from Sabarmati Ashram to Gandhinagar (State capital) on 25th Febraury.


We request you to:


i) be with us, in person those who can, others in spirit on 25th Feb

ii) be on alert to send out protest letters, make phone calls to police, Govt. authorities if there is State violence on 25th (will send out contact details soon)


iii) turn our updates into press releases, news items, stories for the local media


iv) if you are outside India do send your protest letters, news releases, stories to the local India embassy, consulate, public relations office, & if you discover a funding or technology-transfer connection between your local agency & Indian ‘targets’ do create ruckus!


v) we may ask some of you to send solidarity messages or make phone calls to those arrested, injured etc. should some of our worse fears come true


(Anand Mazgaonkar  Sagar Rabari  Swati Desai Michael Mazgaonkar  Rajni Dave  Nita-Mahadev)

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