Week 5. The Controversy with Tata Motors Factory in Gujarat

Tata Motors moved to Gujarat with the plan of manufacturing the world’s cheapest car, Tata Nano. The government allowed the factory to move as a plan of Chief Minister Modi to transform Ahmedabad into a car manufacturing hub and bring in other car companies as well. The factory was built in an agricultural village called Sanand. Many farmers feared the government was going to take away their land without compensation. Tata Motors currently uses land from Gujarat Agricultural University which was in the name of the Gujarat government. The villagers depended on the land to sustain their livelihoods. The villagers were forced to give 1,100 acres of agricultural land for industry. The government gave the farmers a reasonable amount of money for the land (It was sold at 1,200 rupees per square mile or $108,000 per acre). The issue there was that many farmers took the money and moved out of the village and the government easily reclaimed the land. Visiting the village and speaking to some of the people who still live in the area, they were saying that the government was not giving them an option. Either they took the money or the land was going to forcefully be taken from them. Many of the farmers spent their money right away on a new home, new car, or anything they could buy. A lot of those families are poor again and the villagers have lost their livelihoods.

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In return for selling the agricultural land, the village was told they would get employment but in reality only forty to fifty of the people are employed by Tata. There were about ten thousand people who were working on the farms and now majority of them are jobless. The jobs at Tata are high skilled positions and the villagers do not have the skills to apply for the jobs. A lot of the villagers do not get employed because of the fact that the local village workers might form a union. Instead Tata was hiring people from outside the area to prevent a union from forming.

Tata cars were catching on fire and the factory closed down as a result. The vision of Ahmedabad being a car manufacturing hub was no longer a reality. Tata is not reaching the demand it hoped and therefore no other car companies are interested in moving to Gujarat.

The conditions of the villagers became more difficult to live in once the factory moved in. There once was a bus station that went into the village, but was then disconnected. They lack a source of clean drinkable water, which harms the overall health of the village. All they knew was farming and now that their land has been taken away, they do not know what to do. The community was left to be destroyed and they are neglected by the government and the factory. Thankfully, NGOs are working with the villagers to ensure that the ones who stayed do not sell their land. The NGOs help inform the people of their rights and help with getting access to basic amenities.

NGOs serve a critical need in poor communities. These villagers were forced to give up their land and at the end had everything taken away from them. The money perhaps sounded like a great deal, but now the villagers are economically and emotionally unstable. They need help to get back on their feet when they have no fault for the results of an unbroken promise from the government.

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