Statue of Unity land dispute: Gujarat govt questions maintainability of PIL

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The residents had submitted to have been adversely affected by the land acquisition for the Kevadia colony, near Statue of Unity in Narmada district.

After the state government and some Narmada district residents — affected by the land acquisition for the Kevadia colony near the Statue of Unity (SoU) — failed to come to a settlement in the ongoing public interest litigation (PIL) before the Gujarat High Court, the state government, on Thursday, challenged the maintainability of the petition as a PIL.

The state argued that given that the matter pertains to a land-related issue, the aggrieved parties must move a petition and not a PIL, which was moved by social activists.

The PIL was moved by activists Mahesh Pandya, Anand Mazgaonkar, Ashok Naik and Jatin Sheth in July, 2017, on behalf of the residents, villagers and tribals of the five villages of Kevadia, Vagadia, Navagam, Limdi and Gora.

The residents had submitted to have been adversely affected by the land acquisition for the Kevadia colony, near SoU in Narmada district.

The contention of the petitioners, so far, has been that while the state government acquired the land parcels in the five villages as long ago as 1960, 1961 and 1962, the villagers continued to be in possession of the land and cultivate it. The petitioners had thus contended, that if an acquired land remains unoccupied for five years, the acquisition lapses, as per the provisions of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act.

The state government also challenged and questioned the aspect that the petition is being moved in court 58 years after the land was acquired.

A reply is expected to be filed by the petitioners by January 28 to respond to the state government's assertions.