Skip to main content

Tribals off Narmada celebrate Holi, receive ration cards for the first time since Independence

By Our Representative
As the rest of the country splashed in a riot of colours, more than 500 adivasis from the interior tribal villages of Narmada Valley gathered at Toranmal, tehsil Shahda, district Nandurbar in Maharashtra on Friday. While Toranmal is a well-known tourist spot, this year Holi was special here, as more than a thousand poor tribal families from villages Jhapi, Falai, Khadki, Kundiya and hamlets of Toranmal received ‘ration cards’ on Friday for the first time after independence.
Well-known anti-Sardar Sarovar dam body, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), which organized the Holi function, claimed in a note, “While this brought immense happiness to the adivasis, it shocked supporters and media persons who were blissfully ignorant of the magnitude of state neglect and apathy in the interior hilly tribal belts of Narmada valley.”
“Holding the cards in their hands as entitlements to a new form of freedom, the resolute adivasis asserted their rights to land, water and forest. As the younger generation danced and sang to the drum beats and conches of the traditional Holi, the elders received the ration cards with dignity, a scenario which brought tears to the eyes of many -- a reality to witness by all those who are concerned about the disparities and injustice here”, NBA said in a note sent to Counterview.
According to NBA, “The tribals could get the ration cards only after perseverant follow up by the villagers and activists.” At the same time, it complained, “Yet thousands more remain without the right to public distribution system even today. This is only a glimpse in the unfortunate saga of the government of not having up-to-date records of these original inhabitants in spite of the Supreme Court’s order since 2011 that government must not to leave out any citizen hungry in the whole of the country.”
An NBA meet following the celebration
The occasion became point for NBA to continue its anti-dam campaign it is leading for the last over two decades on the dams being built on the Narmada river, including the Narmada dam in Gujarat. It said, “The adivasis pledged to consolidate their united struggle against the medium dams proposed to be built on the tributaries of Narmada river which would create large-scale displacement, in the backdrop of the fact that thousands of adivasi families displaced by Sardar Sarovar are yet to be rehabilitated lawfully.”
“These villages living here several decades, even generations, are yet to get their rights to land, water and forest and survive mainly only on the meager resources that they have with simple living and self-reliance”, NBA said, adding, “They are thus least dependent on government; however, the government has not even reached out to them in order to implement the laws and Supreme Court’s judgments whether it is on right to food or forest rights.”
Pointing out that they are deprived of “forest individual and community rights that were to be granted under the Forest Act, 2006”, the NBA said, “Large number of them on have received rejection orders in spite of having submitted applications for their rights to forest land under cultivation along with Gram Sabha resolutions and whatever proof they have”.
It added, “The rejection orders unjustifiably refers to the Google maps of 2006 while admitting that their cultivated lands in the hills and mountain ranges were measured with GPS machines. Huge extraction of money by the forest department employees on the other hand continues.”

Comments

TRENDING

132 Gujarat citizens, including IIM-A faculty, others declare solidarity with Kashmiris

Counterview Desk
A week after it was floated, 132 activists, academics, students, artists and other concerned citizens of Gujarat, backed by 118 living in different parts of India and the world, have signed a "solidarity letter" supporting the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), who, it claims, have been silenced and held captive in their own land. The signatories include faculty members and scholars of the prestigious Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A).

Bharat Ratna nominee ‘joined hands’ with British masters to 'crush' Quit India

By Shamsul Islam*
The Quit India Movement (QIM), also known as ‘August Kranti' (August Revolution), was a nation-wide Civil Disobedience Movement for which a call was given on August 7, 1942 by the Bombay session of the All-India Congress Committee. It was to begin on August 9 as per Gandhi's call to 'Do or Die' in his Quit India speech delivered in Bombay at the Gowalia Tank Maidan on August 8. Since then August 9 is celebrated as August Kranti Divas.

Ceramic worker dies: 20,000 workers in Thangadh, Gujarat, 'risk' deadly silicosis

By Our Representative
Even as the country was busy preparing for the Janmashtami festival on Saturday, Hareshbhai, a 46-year-old ceramic worker from suffering from the fatal lung disease silicosis, passed away. He worked in a ceramic unit in Thangadh in Surendranagar district of Gujarat from 2000 to 2016.
Hareshbhai was diagnosed with the disease by the GCS Medical College, Naroda Road, Ahmedabad in 2014. He was found to be suffering from progressive massive fibrosis. He is left behind by his wife Rekha sister and two sons Deepak (18) and Umesh (12),
The death of Hareshbhai, says Jagdish Patel of the health rights group Peoples Training and Research Centre (PTRC), suggests that silicosis, an occupational disease, can be prevented but not cured, and the Factory Act has sufficient provisions to prevent this.
According to Patel, the pottery industry in the industrial town of Thangadh has evolved for a long time and locals as well as migrant workers are employed here. There are abou…

Gujarat's incomplete canals: Narmada dam filled up, yet benefits 'won't reach' farmers

By Our Representative
Even as the Gujarat government is making all out efforts to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river up to the full reservoir level (FRL), a senior farmer rights leader has said the huge reservoir, as of today, remains a “mirage for the farmers of Gujarat”.
In a statement, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that though the dam’s reservoir is being filled up, the canal network remains complete. Quoting latest government figures, he says, meanwhile, the command area of the dam has been reduced from 18,45,000 hectares (ha) to 17,92,000 ha.
“According to the website of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, which was last updated on Friday, while the main canal, of 458 km long, has been completed, 144 km of ranch canals out of the proposed length of 2731 km remain incomplete.
Then, as against the targeted 4,569 km distributaries, 4,347 km have been constructed, suggesting work for 222 km is still pending. And of the 15,670 km of minor canal…

Cess for Gujarat construction workers: Spending less than 10%; no 'direct help' to beneficiaries

By Our Representative
While the Gujarat government’s Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board, set up in 2004, as of March 31, 2019, has collected a total cess of Rs 2,097.62 crore from the the builders, it has spent less than 10% -- Rs 197.17 crore. And, as on May 31, 2019, the total cess collection has reached Rs 2,583.16 crore, said a statement issued by Bandhkam Majur Sagathan general secretary Vipul Pandya.
Pointing out that just about 6.5 lakh out of 20 lakh workers have been registered under the board, Pandya said, vis-à-vis other states, Gujarat ranks No 13th in the amount spent on the welfare of the construction workers, while 11th in the amount collected.
And while the builders are obliged to pay just about 1% of the total cost of their project, the calculation of the cess is flawed: It is Rs 3,000 per square yard; accordingly, Rs 30 per square yard is collected. “Had the cess been collected on the real construction cost, it would have been at least Rs 7,000 cr…