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Cancel DSIR...

This petition had 157 supporters

Cancel Dholera SIR (Special Investment Region),

save villagers, environment and organic agriculture…

The people of 22 villages falling in the (proposed) Dholera Special Investment Region (DSIR) in Gujarat are being sacrificed at the altar of GDP and FDI figures. The Government of Gujarat (GoG) announced the DSIR in 2009. We have since lost our peace of mind, tense as we are about losing lands, livelihoods, environment and habitat, culture, dignity, self-reliance, indeed very existence.

This project is spread over 22 revenue villages and 16 other major and minor human settlements and agglomerations and spans an area of 920 sq. kms. The DSIR area is ringed on the north by the Gulf of Khambhat. The boundary of Bawaliyari revenue village is ringed in the north by a 20 km stretch of the coast. The coast has been receding since the last 70 years and sea ingress has been on the rise. In the last 50 years the sea ingress has claimed over 10 kms. of the land mass. The Gulf of Khambhat records a daily tide of 11 meters and a very strong sea current. Most of the rivers running across Saurashtra and going through Botad, Ahmedabad, and Surendranagar are filled in monsoon and flow through the DSIR area to meet the sea. In the monsoon, the rain water and the sea water together make this area water logged. This characteristic, besides the black and soft clay and the fact that the area is a mere 1 foot above sea level makes this a coastal zone.

The Velavadar black buck (Kaliyar) sanctuary and national park are situated at a distance of 200 meters from the village Bawaliyari. The revenue land of the whole of Bawaliyari and 5 other villages falls within the 10 km. radius (considered eco-sensitive zone) of the Velavadar sanctuary. The black buck (Kaliyar) is an extremely shy animal and is listed as a protected animal by the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. Velavadar National Park hosts the world's largest harrier roost - Montagu's Harrier, Pallid Harrier and Marsh Harrier can be seen in large numbers, while Hen Harrier is occasionally spotted in the winter. The dense grassland of the area sees the arrival of the Lesser Florican birds for breeding in the monsoon, and which is a highly endangered species included in Schedule 1 (of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972). Other animal, bird and insect species like the harrier, the crane, Wolves, Houbara bustard, Hyenas with foxes, jackals and Jungle Cats as also wild pigs, hares and rodents. Among the avifauna family, Sandgrouse and larks are seen in fair numbers. According to Roger Clarke, the British harrier-expert, the harrier roost found at the park is one of the largest in the world. In short, this area is rich with natural biodiversity. The impact of a world-class city with ‘world-class infrastructure’ and dense human population and the attendant pollution (air, water, noise) on the fragile ecology of the area, its flora and fauna can be only imagined.  An industrial township in such a fragile zone will cause irreparable damage to this area and its ecology.

The DSIR has an aim of generating jobs and bringing ‘development’ to us. But if the project deprives us of our livelihood, our land, our dignity, of what use is it to us? We do not want to lose our land and become part of the unorganised sector labour force with no guarantees of an assured income. In such a case, our families and our children and their future will be severely jeopardised. WE DO NOT WANT SUCH ‘DEVELOPMENT’.

We have been pursuing rain-fed agriculture for generations. The wheat that is produced is the world-famous variety called ‘Bhalia ghaun’ (Bhalia wheat), cumin, gram and cotton crop. Urbanisation and industrialisation will ruin our agriculture.

Again, we are told that all this is for our own good, that the DSIR will bring educational institutions, quality health care, good roads, water, transport facilities at our doorstep. But we ask: are we not entitled to these anyways? Are these not our rights?

We ask the powers-that-be:

1.       Do we not have the right to choose our means and mode of livelihood?

2.      Do we not have a say in the direction and indeed the very definition, of ‘development’?

3.       Is development the prerogative of only the urban areas?

4.      How does our impoverishment (and that is certain) serve the ‘national interest’?

5.      Can any amount of FDI justify the destruction of organic farming, precious marine life, the endangered flora and animal life in the Velavadar sanctuary?

Please help us to stop the ecological and human destruction that DSIR is. Spread the word about DSIR and its dangerous implications by signing and sharing this petition. Ask the Government of Gujarat and Government of India to cancel the DSIR.

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