AHMEDABAD: A survey conducted by Maldhari Vikas Sangathan has revealed that there is zero land available in the state for cattle grazing.
"Of the 40 lakh hectare gauchar land which the state once had, only eight lakh hectare exists on paper for cattle grazing. Of this, 95% has been encroached upon and the remaining 5% is under the possession of influential people in villages," said Geeta Desai, a member of the sangathan. She was talking to reporters at Gujarat Vidyapith here.
The findings of the survey were revealed at a function organized to felicitate maldharis and also to mark the completion of six months of the maldhari helpline.
Project coordinator of the helpline, Bhavna Desai, said that most of the calls received by the helpline were related to lack of grazing land and allocation of gauchar or waste land to industries. She said that the agitation by farmers in Mandal and Bechraji was the biggest example where the villagers themselves spent nearly Rs 1.5 crore to keep industries away from the area.
Haja Kalotara, of Panchal Maldhari Sangathan, said that though the Saurashtra Land Act clearly calls maldhari as farmer, the state government rules do not allow the maldharis to purchase land in Gujarat. This was also depriving the community of getting bank loans.
Geeta Desai said that lack of education was a major stumbling block for the community's development. "The community members cannot afford high fees in private schools, while education in government institutions is not of good quality,'' she said.