Monday, September 7, 2009

Ambuja Cements Limited Kodinar Junagadh District News Samachar Gujarat India

Villagers allege Ambuja Cements mined 145 hectares illegally

Ambuja Cements Limited, which has applied for surrender of limestone mines located in an area of nearly 131 hectares in Rampara village in Junagadh District, is facing the charges of illegal mining on additional 145 hectares by the local gram panchayat.

Karsan Bamaniya, the sarpanch of Rampara village, told the Indian Express that the company had illegally mined the village land worth around Rs 700 crore, over and above what the state government had allocated it for mining.

“An area of 131.6552 hectares was transferred to Ambuja Cements on October 28, 1991 on a mining lease by the state government. But the company went on to illegally mine 145 hectares additionally. Of this illegally mined land, 101 hectares of land was the village’s gauchar land,” said Bamaniya.

Shailendra Singh Rathod, the president of the district panchayat of Junagadh, had also submitted a written objection to this act in one of the ‘district fariyaad samitis’ held on 9 January this year. A copy of this complaint letter is available with this newspaper.

In reply to the panchayat’s complaint, the district administration had said that it had conducted an enquiry and had found many boundary pillars missing on the mining site. V K Mule, a geologist with the Junagadh district administration, had subsequently directed the company to put in place all the missing pillars so that a proper assessment could be done.

However, when contacted, Rathod denied submitting such a letter to the administration. He said, “I don’t remember doing that.” On the other hand, Mule said: “It’s a minor issue. All the boundary pillars at the mining site are in place now.” That apart, Mule also denied the existence of a fact-finding letter submitted to him by the assistant geologist of Junagadh district dated July 7, 2007, a copy of which is available with this newspaper. In this letter, the administration had also contended that Ambuja Cements had “intentionally” discharged the water that had collected in its limestone mines to the neighboring fields, destroying all crops there. The enquiry initiated, on complaints made on May 22, 2007 by some of the affected farmers, reported the total estimate loss of Rs 23, 67,600 to 33 farmers caused by the discharge.

That apart, Ashwini Kumar, District Collector of Junagadh, refused to comment on the issue. “As far as my knowledge goes, Rampara villagers have indeed submitted an application alleging illegal mining by Ambuja Cements Limited. But the status of the enquiry in this issue and the administration’s version will be what V K Mule says,'' he said.

The company, on its part, has denied the charges leveled against it by the gram panchayat. Sriram S Kotiya, General Manager (Commercial), Ambuja Cements Limited, said: “The allegations of illegal mining are false. We have mined only the 131 hectares in Rampara that was leased to us. The notice by the Rampara gram panchayat was received and replied back suitably.”

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