Posted: Wed Nov 09 2011, 02:01 hrsGandhinagar
The state government has started the process of drafting a strict policy of not allowing any encroachment on pastoral (gauchar) land in villages against the interests of the local community.
The new policy could restrict land acquisition for industries, something that has been easy so far in the state, which has been a magnet for foreign investors.
In Gujarat, around 424 villages have no pastoral land left. The state should have 39.56 lakh hectares of grazing land, as per a revenue department notification issued in December 1988, which mandated 16 hectares (40 acres) of pastoral land for 100 animals in normal areas and 8 hectares (20 acres) for the same in forest areas. As against this, the state only has an estimated 8.5 lakh hectares, a data that has almost not changed since the state’s formation in 1960.
Now the new policy is being firmed up in the wake of a Supreme Court order passed earlier this year, which said that “pastoral land and other community resources belonging to a village shall not be given for industrial or commercial use and should strictly be used for communities’ use”.
A senior state revenue department official said a ministerial committee has been formed for working out various aspects of this policy in accordance with the SC order. “The department has also sought state legal department’s interpretation of the SC order,” the official said. “However, the SC has not said no to use of such land in the larger public good like building schools, health centres etc,” he added.