The industry-society standoff in Gujarat is reaching newer peaks day-by-day. Now, the fishermen community from Mundra region are once again up in arms against the industrial development on the coastal belt.
As a protest against upcoming power projects of biggies like Tata Group, Adani group, and OPG Power, besides Mudra Port and Special Economic Zone (MPSEZ), over 3,000 villagers including fishermen, salt pan workers and farmers from about 10 villages surrounding Mundra held a 50 km rally from Bhadreshwar in Kutch to the district headquarter in Bhuj.
The protest march was motivated by the threat of destruction of bhanderas or fish farms, where fishermen live during the nine months fishing season by the British firm, OPG power and the Adani group's Kutch Power Generation Limited (KPGL).
According to the protesting fishermen, the two power plants have severely curtained the former's access to sea as well as destroyed their fish yield as a consequence of outlet channels from the plant sites. As a major fillip, the protest was also found support from Kanu Kalsaria, who spearheaded the protest against the Nirma Ltd's cement plant in Mahuva. "Yes, I have joined the agitations launched by the fishermen and we are trying our best to get them justice," said Kalasaria.
It may be mentioned here that Kalasaria is a rebel of ruling BJP government in Gujarat. The representatives of fishermen and local community submitted a memorandum to the district collector of Kutch expressing their grief and anger over the encroachment of mega industrial projects on their livelihood. "We have received the memorandum from the fishermen community against the industries on the coastal region. Since the matter requires state intervention, we will take up this matter with the state government in due course of time," said M Thennarasan, district collector - Kutch.
The protest march was joined by men, women and children bearing placards and shouting slogans to draws attention about the adverse impact on their lives due to the projects by the companies such as Tata, Adani and OPG Power.
"To raise the voice against the injustice to the fishermen and farmers, the local community decided to take a two-day march from Bhadreshwar to Bhuj. Men, women and children together walked all through the 50-km stretch and submitted a memorandum to the district collector," said Bharat Patel, convenor, Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan. The administration has not given any specific deadline to resolve the issue. But the fishermen community is ready to take out another march, this time towards Gandhinagar if their voice remains unheard. Tata Group is developing a UMPP under its subsidiary, Coastal Gujarat Power Limited (CGPL), while Adani's two ambitious projects including a power plant and MPSEZ have also come up on the coastal belt.