Skip to main content

Following protests off Narmada, govt disbands tourism authority, but will acquire land as "public purpose"

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government has given clear indications that, despite the tribal farmers’ protests, it will go ahead with the proposed tourism project around the so-called Statue of Unity it is planning just about three kilometers downstream of the Narmada dam. In a statement issued ahead of the stone-laying ceremony for the statue, to be in the memory of Sardar Patel on October 31, the birth anniversary of the Iron Man, and envisaged as “three times higher than the Statue of Liberty” in New York, the state government declared the area around the statue will be developed into a “world-class tourism spot”, but refused to say how much land it would acquire under "public purpose" provision of the new land acquisition Act.
The tribal farmers have already declared they will not take the package lying down. According to a statement issued by Sitter Gam Adivasi Sangathan, there is "no clarity" on whether the tourism project would be given up and the forcible acquisition of their land, as planned, would not take place in future. "Villagers will stage a protest in their village on October 31 by continuously beating steel plates and waving awareness flags to show protest that they will not be satisfied till all their demands are met", the statement said, adding, "Nor is there any clarity on what will happen to the villages, whether they will be submerged, in case the Garudeshwar weir is constructed across the Narmada 12 kilometres from the dam."
Tribal farmers of around 70 villages around the Narmada dam recently raised their pitch of protest against the threat issued to them by the Kevadia Area Development Authority (KADA), a state government body formed about a year ago, and given responsibility for developing tourism in the region, that they either decide to agree to hand over their land for tourism or face consequences. Kevadia colony is the spot where the Narmada dam is situated. The protests forced the state government to call them for negotiations on October 15, where they were told to “hold on” till October 31, when the Gujarat chief minister plans to lay stone for the Sardar Statue.
Even while announcing that it has decided to “disband” KADA, which had issued the threat, the statement gives no assurance on putting off the tribals’ main – to disband the tourism project on their land. As many as 145 representatives from 70 villages had met Cabinet members of the Modi government – finance minister Nitin Patel, revenue minister Anandiben Patel and tribal and forest minister Ganpat Vasava – in order to put up the demand. The talks, which took place in the presence of Narmada district collector Rakesh Shankar, ended after the ministers succeeded in getting promise from the representatives that they would not disturb Modi’s programme on October 31.
While there is no assurance to tribal farmers that their land would not be acquired for tourism purpose, the statement states that the Gujarat government has decided to “assuage the three-decades-old demand of the tribal farmers of six villages in the immediate neighbourhood of Kevadia by providing them with a package similar to the Narmada oustees.” Other “demands” which the statement government said it has decided to meet include formation of a new taluka called Garudeshwar to include 94 villages surrounding the Narmada dam, and provide irrigation waters to the tribal farmers of these villages.
The statement suggested that the area around the proposed statue will be developed to “showcase” Gujarat’s “development efforts” in the recent past via tourism. Apart from an audio-visual show on Sardar Patel’s life, including a daily light-and-sound show, the “world-class tourism” spot would include a “virtual tour, which would showcase Gujarat’s agricultural development, water resource management, amelioration of the tribals, and other developmental activities.” There will also be a museum in the memory of Sardar Patel, people will be taken up on the statue’s top, apart from a ferry service to and from the spot where the Sardar statue is proposed, Sadhu bet.
Meanwhile, the state government declared the collection of iron from India’s farmers to build the statue on a public-private partnership mode will begin on October 31, even as top government officials once again doubting if such iron could at all be used for such a big 182-metre high statue. A knowledgeable official source said, “We have no knowledge of the quality of iron to be given to us by the people. It clearly cannot be used for building the statue. It is at best a symbolic gesture. The iron, at best, can be used for railings and such other things. Besides, we have still not gone into the cost of bringing the iron and taking it for melting for the construction of the statue.”

Comments

TRENDING

Mystery around Gujarat PSU 'transfer' of Rs 250 crore to Canadian firm Karnalyte

By AK Luke, IAS (Retd)*
While returning from a Board meeting of the Oil India Limited (OIL) in Ahmedabad some time in 2012, two officers of the Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd (GSFC), Nanavaty and Patel,  saw me off at the airport. They said they were proceeding to Canada in connection with a project GSFC had entered into with a company there. As we were running late, I hastily wished them the best.

J&K continues to be haunted, as parts of India 'degenerate' into quasi-Kashmir situation

By Rajendran Narayanan*, Sandeep Pandey**
“Jab har saans mein bandook dikhe toh baccha kaise bekhauf rahe?” (How can a child be fearless when she sees a gun in every breath?) remarked Anwar, a gardener from Srinagar, when asked about the situation in Kashmir. On November 30, 2019, a walk through an iron gate in a quiet neighbourhood of Srinagar took us inside a public school. It was 11 am when typically every school is abuzz with activity. Not here though.

Indians have made 119 nations their ‘karma bhumi’: US-based Hindu NGO tells Rupani

Counterview Desk
In a stinging letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, the US-based Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR), referring to the report citing his justification for the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) – that “while Muslims can choose any one of the 150 Islamic countries in the world (for residence), India is the only country for Hindus" – has said, he should remember, Hindus have made several countries, including USA, their home.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad 'declared' two-nation theory in 1937, Jinnah followed 3 years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

What about religious persecution of Dalits, Adivasis, asks anti-CAA meet off Ahmedabad

By Rajiv Shah
A well-attended Dalit rights meet under the banner “14 Pe Charcha” (discussion on Article 14 of the Indian Constitution), alluding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi well-known campaign phrase of the 2014 Parliamentary elections, “chai pe charcha” (discussion over cup of tea), organized off Ahmedabad, has resolved on Wednesday to hold a 14 kilometres-long rally on April 14 to oppose the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), enacted on December 10-11.

Upendra Baxi on foolish excellence, Indian judges and Consitutional cockroaches

By Rajiv Shah
In a controversial assertion, top legal expert Upendra Baxi has sought to question India's Constitution makers for neglecting human rights and social justice. Addressing an elite audience in Ahmedabad, Prof Baxi said, the constitutional idea of India enunciated by the Constituent Assembly tried to resolve four key conflicting concepts: governance, development, rights and justice.

Tata Mundra's possible closure? Power ministry's 'pressure tactic' on consumer states

By Bharat Patel*
Tata power has announced to the Union Ministry of Power that Tata Power may be forced to stop operating  its imported coal-based Mundra Ultra-Mega Power Project (UMPP) after February, 2020. It is not only unfortunate but also criminal that irreversible damage has been caused to the fragile ecosystem of Mundra coast for a project that will have a running life of only seven years.

Population control? 10% Indian couples want to delay next pregnancy, but fail

Counterview Desk
Shireen Jejeebhoy, director at Aksha Centre for Equity and Wellbeing, previously senior associate at the Population Council, India, argues that the debate on the country's population was fuelled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day address to the nation, where he drew attention to “concern” about the challenges posed by this ‘exploding’ population growth, needs to centre around the promotion of rights and education, instead of the language of explosion and the threat of coercion that this term implies.

Kerala governor turned History Congress into political arena, 'insulted' Prof Irfan Habib

Counterview Desk
In a signed statement, office bearers of the Aligarh Society of History and Archaeology (ASHA), Prof Syed Ali Nadeem Rezavi (president), Prof Jabir Raza (vice-president), Prof Manvendra Kumar Pundhir (secretary) and Prof Farhat Hasan (joint secretary), have said that Kerala governor Arif Mohammad Khan had sought to insult veteran historian Prof Irfan Habib, 88, at the 80th session of the Indian History Congress, even as turning it into his “political arena”.