A division bench of the Gujarat High Court has now issued notice to the state and central governments on a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging allotment of ‘gauchar’ land (village pastures) in Kutch district to private companies for setting up windmills.
This has put the wind power projects slated to be developed in Kutch region of Gujarat in a state of jeopardy.
Per Press Trust of India (PTI), the respondents have up to August 29, 2018, to respond to the notice. The division bench was hearing a PIL filed by Kasam Sidhiq. Per Sidhiq’s petition, “environmental impact assessment was not done before giving away these lands to private wind energy firms. The allotment of gauchar land to private firms will adversely impact the Maldhari community which traditionally rears cattle.”
“The manner in which windmills are being erected leads to serious damage to agriculture activities in the vicinity. Local panchayats illegally passed resolutions favoring allotment of land to private firms, and the reduction of gauchar land leads to a scenario where cattle owners are compelled to let the cattle on roads and in the open which creates public nuisance,” mentioned the PIL.
The issuance of notice is the first procedure out of many that will follow. This will halt the development of these projects and lead to losses. A question arises, “Are the implementing agencies running a race to attain capacity attainment targets without giving due consideration to the due process and procedures?”
These projects were allowed without conducting proper land survey and little attention was paid to the effect these windmill installations would have on the lives and lifestyles of the people living in the surrounding areas. Had due process been followed, the losses that these companies will incur due to either a lengthy litigation or shifting to another location might have been prevented.