The residents of Sangnara, a small village in f Kutch District of Gujarat have launched a protest against the installation of windmills in a nearby forest, for a renewable energy project.
On Friday, a group of villagers occupied land allotted renewable energy firm Suzlon for the project near their village.
According to the residents, the company has been expanding its footprint over the years on the land which is part of the community grazing land belonging to the village panchayat.
Kutch has been designated as an important wind energy exploitation zone, and in the past few years, thousands of windmills have been put up by energy companies.
They alleged that since the first wind energy turbine was put up in the forest 5 years ago, by Suzlon destroying hundreds of trees, flattening hills to create access for the machinery, fans and transmission cables, birds and wildlife deserted the area afraid of the consistent noise of the fans and machinery.
Fifty more windmills were approved by the administration in the forest.
Why is Sangnara forest important?
The Sangnara forest is part of the sacred groove where five villages have their places of worship. This is a 500 sqkm virgin Tropical Thorn Forest, perhaps the best in Gujarat with a huge diversity of threatened flora and fauna including Chinkara, Wolf, Caracal, Ratel, Hyena, Desert Cat, Indian Fox, Spiny Tailed Lizard, Desert Monitor, White Naped-Tit, Vultures, and many more. The communities have maintained and protected this forest for the past 500 years.
But they now fear that the forest will be lost forever if the windmill project continues to expand.
On Friday, hundreds of people from the village held a protest march against setting and vowed that they won’t let the company destroy their forest.
The village then went on to block the road leading upto the second windmill foundation with rocks and boulders.
They also alleged that Suzlon is trying to use force against them with the support of the police administration.
“The government and companies are already telling us we are obstructing ‘development’; soon they will say we are terrorists and anti-nationals! We are not afraid as we are not doing this for any selfish gains; it is for the voiceless wild animals and nature,” Shankarbhai a village leader said.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding