The violent earthquake in western India in January 2001 left thousands of people dead and tens of thousands of homes destroyed. Filmmaker Rakesh Sharma went to remote villages affected by the quake as a volunteer to help install solar-powered lighting. He ran into an acquisition survey team from the Gujarat Mineral Development Corporation (GMDC), which wanted to take over affected villages for lignite mining (power generation). Rakesh decided to make a film about the mining company’s attempt to take over two villages damaged by the quake.

Rakesh Sharma

Rakesh returned to the villages several times and followed the negotiations between GMDC (74% of the shares are held by the state government) and the villagers of Julrai and Umarsar. In return for vacating their land, the villagers were promised new houses, running water and electricity, but no financial compensation, no jobs, no alternate farmland.

On the surface, everything is done by the book with meetings and democratic votes. But when some of the low-caste Rabbaris from Julrai refuse to vacate their land (which means leaving their only source of income), the big corporation take a hard line.

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