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Supreme Court stays Gujarat HC order on recovering land from Adani Ports

On July 5, the Additional Chief Secretary notified the court that the state administration had opted to reclaim 108 hectares of 'gauchar' land previously allocated to APSEZ

Adani Ports

Adani Ports

Rimjhim Singh New Delhi

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted interim relief to Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (SEZ) by staying the Gujarat High Court's directive to recover 108 hectares of land allocated in the Kachchh region. This decision was made after Adani Ports appealed against the Gujarat government's attempt to reclaim the land.

The Supreme Court bench, which included Justices BR Gavai and KV Viswanathan, temporarily stayed the order and issued a notice in response to a plea from senior lawyer Mukul Rohatgi. Rohatgi, representing the Adani entity, contended that the high court's decision was made without allowing the company an opportunity to present its case.

Justice Gavai said, "He (Mukul Rohatgi) states that though the counsel for the petitioner was present before the high court and attempted to make submissions, he was not heard by the high court. Issue notice, and there shall we stay the impugned order."

The dispute

The residents of Navinal village in Kutch district filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the high court to challenge the allocation of 231 acres of "gauchar" (grazing) land to the Adani firm.

The state revenue department made this allocation in 2005, but villagers only became aware of it in 2010 when APSEZ began fencing the land.

After the allocation, local residents observed that the village retained only 45 acres of grazing land, with 231 acres out of the initial 276 acres being transferred to APSEZ. They argued that the decision was illegal, citing a pre-existing shortage of grazing land and asserting that the land was a community resource.

In 2014, the high court dismissed the PIL after the state government stated in an affidavit that the deputy collector had granted an additional 387 hectares of government land for grazing purposes. When this did not occur, a contempt petition was filed in the high court.

In 2015, the state government submitted a review petition asserting that only 17 hectares were deemed accessible for allocation to the panchayat.

The government then proposed allocating the remaining land nearly 7 km away, which villagers rejected, arguing it was too far for cattle to travel.

In April 2024, a division bench directed the Additional Chief Secretary of the Revenue Department to find a solution.

On July 5, the Additional Chief Secretary, through an affidavit, informed the bench that the state government decided to reclaim nearly 108 hectares (266 acres) of "gauchar" land previously allotted to APSEZ.

The revenue department stated in court that the state government plans to restore 129 hectares of land designated as "gauchar" back to the village. This restoration effort will use both state-owned land and 108 hectares reclaimed from the Adani group.

(With agency inputs)

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First Published: Jul 10 2024 | 4:07 PM IST

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