Maruti Suzuki's new Gujarat plant likely to be in trouble

Thursday 06 June 2013, 10:10 AM by

The local villagers of Gujarat are planning to send a legal notice to the country's largest auto maker, Maruti Suzuki India Limited, asking it to stop the setting up of manufacturing unit at Hansalpur, Gujarat. The Mandal-Becharaji belt in Mehsana district of Gujarat, where Maruti is planning to establish its new production unit, has been termed as an SIR. Basically, SIRs are a kind of special economic zones, but whose all the production is not exports oriented. Along with commercial and industrial plants, these regions have residential areas and also offer logistic connectivity.

On May 31, 36 of the total 44 gram sabhas of the region expressed their concern on a resolution to oppose the privilege of SIR, which has been given to the Mandal-Becharaji region. This is because of the fact that the land of this region is fertile, which is being acquired by the state government for developing industrial hubs. On this matter, a villager in Hansalpur was quoted as saying, “Already a draft notice has been prepared and villagers are deliberating on the issue and taking legal counsel. Everyone thinks that the coming of the Maruti Suzuki plant at Hansalpur is the root cause of the special investment region (SIR) and are now opposed to having the plant in the region.”

The Village Chief of Hansalpur, Ajmalbhai Thakore said, “We have already had multiple discussions with the collector of the region and have also sent letters to the company asking them to allow passage to our village. We have asked for land for roads, etc, and also some agricultural land has come inside the plot. However, we are yet to receive any feedback either from the government or the company, and if the construction work continues, then the entire purpose of the opposition might be lost.”

On the other hand, a senior official of Maruti Suzuki said that he is unknown with any such development going on in Gujarat. However, the local people have stated that Maruti Suzuki has slowed down the tempo of its work in last few days. The rebel former of Bharatiya Janata Party legislator, Kanubhai Kalsariya is spearheading this agitation of villagers against the Nirma Cement plant at Mahuva. Some of the enthusiastic villagers have said that they would go the plant site by the second week of June 2013 and will take down the security cabins. On this, Kalsariya was quoted as saying, “First, the company would be sent a notice intimating them about the opposition and asking them to halt work. But the movement has to be one of non-violent non-cooperation.”

He is of a view that the plans of SIR are currently at a conceptual stage, but the project of Maruti Suzuki is at the root of this initiative. Ajmalbhai further said, “Initially, there was no opposition to the Maruti plant, but once we got to know about the SIR, we are worried. If the SIR happens, the entire land of the village would be gone in making way for roads, etc, according to the draft survey map.” It must be noted that at the moment villagers are spreading awareness about the negative affect of SIR on animal husbandry and agriculture in the region.

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