ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Swimming against the Tide

Coastal Communities and Corporate Plunder in Kutch

This article is based on a visit to Mundra taluka of Kutch district, Gujarat in January 2011 to understand fi rst hand the plunder of common property resources. It focuses on the Mundra Port and special economic zone developed by the Adani Group and a thermal power plant of OPG Power and their impact on different sections of the local community.

This essay is a shortened version of a chapter from the book Communities, Commons and Corporations (Perspectives, Delhi, January 2012).

1 Introduction

Gujarat has been hailed by the big industrialists of the country as a shining example of a state that promotes “development” by encouraging private investment, through concessions and incentives being given to industrial and infrastructure projects (Pandit 2011). Kutch district, located on the western-most tip of India, in particular, has received investments on a large scale for various developmental projects. According to the Government of Gujarat, Kutch accounts for 39% of the total projects currently under implementation in the state (Government of Gujarat, not dated). The district is preferred and praised on the grounds that it is easier to acquire land here, due to the fact that a lot of the land acquired is government land, which does not require the consent of individual owners and thereby limits protests around land acquisition. As we will see in this article, these lands which are classified as government land, barren or wasteland, also support the livelihoods of communities, who are protesting against their transfer for projects from which they do not stand to benefit in any way. Numerous violations of environmental law, coastal zone regulations and the government’s own notifications make this kind of transfer especially i­llegal and unjust.

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