Angry farmers tell GAIL â€کpay up or stay away!'

Vol 13, PW 15 (14 Jan 10) Midstream & Downstream

More than 3000 angry farmers in Gujarat are disrupting completion of GAIL’s second gas transmission pipeline from Dahej to Vijaipur (DVPL-2).

PETROWATCH learns farmers in the Vadodara, Bharuch, Panchmahals and Dahod districts are demanding compensation for crops damaged by GAIL’s earlier parallel pipeline project (DVPL-1) laid along the same route in 2003 and commissioned in 2004. “We will allow GAIL to start digging our land for this pipeline only when compensation is paid for the earlier pipeline,â€‌ one farmer tells PETROWATCH.

Work on DVPL-2 should have begun last October for targetted completion by August this year. “The farmers’ protest will hit the completion schedule for this pipeline,â€‌ admits GAIL.

Last November district officials asked GAIL to pay Rs53.84cr ($11.5m) to compensate farmers for spoilt crops during the laying of the first pipeline. This works out to Rs3000 ($64.29) per â€کguntha’ (1,042-sq ft) of farmland.

But according to farmers’ leader Mahendrasinh Raj - who is spearheading the protests - farmers have so far been paid less than a third (Rs700) of what they believe is owed. “That’s the lowest compensation ever received by farmers in any pipeline project in India!â€‌ says Raj.

So far 1300 farmers have filed cases against GAIL in the Bharuch district court, 800 have filed cases in the Vadodara court, 735 have filed cases in the Panchmahals court, and 465 have filed cases in the Dahod court. More, farmers have approached local police chiefs and submitted memoranda barring GAIL from doing further work on their fields.

More protests are planned. On December 25, a group of farmers from Vadodara gathered in Karjan village to discuss their demands and future strategy.

Forced to stop work, GAIL is stockpiling pipes at several pre-designated assembly points along the planned route from Dahej to Vijaipur.