Date: 25th February 2011
· The Senior NDTV reporters Ms. Sikta Dev, Ms. Sarah Jacob, cameraman Mr. Davedeep Kunvar, well-known environmental activist Mr. Bharat Patel and their driver Mr. Manish Thakker threatened, illegally detained and manhandled by Mr. M. P. Yadav, Nodal Officer of Adani Securities, Kutch .
· Why does the company want to hide the environmental destruction of the coastal belt of Kutch?
· Has the Mundra coastline turned in Adanis’ private property?
We the activists of Gujarat condemn the manhandling and illegal detention of senior reporter Ms. Sikta Dev, Ms. Sarah Jacob, cameraman Mr. Davedeep Kunvar of NDTV and well-known environmental activist Mr. Bharat Patel by the security personal of the Adani Securities. They were illegally held by, Mr. M. P. Yadav, the Nodal Officer of the Adani Securities in Kutch on 24th February 2011.
We understand that they were only engaged in video shooting at ‘Abhanvadi Creek’ in the Mangrove Forest to gauge the impact of construction on the creek and mangroves in the area. After finishing their work when they came back around 3.00 p.m. to catch their Vehicle parked at distance they found their driver Mr. Manish Thakker and their vehicle missing. Mr. M. P. Yadav told them that they are under arrest as the reporters had entered the SEZ area of Adani and they were taken to the Adani House located at Adani Port, Mundra. At Adani House when they meet their drive Mr. Manish Thakker he was scared and even started crying. The staff at Adani House manhandled the cameraman damaging his camera as a result.
When the reporter insisted on proper legal procedure being followed they were taken to the Development Commissioner’s Office of Mundra Port and Special Economic Zone, Mr. Mathew, Additional Development Commissioner agreed that the Adani staff could a complaint but detaining anybody was illegal. The Development Commissioner also agreed that the area where the NDTV reporters video shooting was not part of SEZ.
This is not only a matter of reporters being obstructed from exercising their right to report by private corporations. The other serious implications are:
- the corporation is trying to hide the reality of the irreparable damage to the costal belt, filling up of the creek & destruction of mangroves
- it is tantamount to covering up crime with crime
- public property, natural & national resources are being turned over to corporations
- the authorities that boast about law & order choose to remain completely blind to wanton disregard for law & natural rights
- a Government that claims to be pro-people acts as a handmaiden of the powerful corporate interests, so much for our democracy
The area under mangrove cover along the Gujarat Coast is the second largest in India – after the Sunderbans. The Gulf of Kutch accounts to 93% of Gujarat’s mangroves. There is an attack on the ecology of the Kutch as almost the entire stretch of coastal Kutch is taken over by the Port, SEZ and nearly 22000 MW coal based power plants that are planned.
If the authorities have any modicum of respect for rule of law they must immediately:
i) put a stop to the ecological destruction of the Kutch
ii) take action against Adanis personnel who acted in a wanton manner and beyond their powers
iii) demand a public apology from Adanis for its illegal actions
iv) ensure that public property is not treated as private property by anyone, however powerful
We appeal to the progressive people of Gujarat to condemn the concerned corporation for the grave illegal action.
Swati Desai, Rohit Prajapati, Trupti Shah – Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti
Rajnibhai Dave – Manaviya Technology Forum
Anand Mazgaonkar – National Alliance of People’s Movements
Dr. J. S. Bandukwala – People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Gujarat
Amrish Brahmbhatt & Kantibhai Mistry – Jyoti Karmachari Mandal