Skip to main content

No tribal representation in order forming committees for eco-sensitive zone in South Gujarat, 30,000 protest

Second South Gujarat rally against Central order "ignoring" tribals
By Our Representative
In a major development, the Government of India’s proposed notification, calling for declaring the seven kiloemtre area around South Gujarat’s one of the most well-preserved Shoolpaneshwar sanctuary as eco-sensitive has zone, has ignored participation of local tribal representatives in the proposed master plan to “develop” the region.
The sanctuary is situated off the controversial Narmada dam, and houses some 121 tribal villages.
While the notification wants the master plan to be implemented for developing eco-tourism activities and “non-polluting” small scale industries the eco-sensitive zone, it is widely believed, the sanctuary is the next target for extension of tourism activities off Narmada dam around the 182-metre tall statue of the Sardar Patel under construction in the midst of Narmada river.
The notification says, the master plan would be declared after ”consultation with all the concerned departments”, such as environment, forests, urban development, tourism, municipality, revenue, agriculture, Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB), irrigation and public works department of the Gujarat government.
Published in Hindi and English – with no Gujarati copy made available – the notification, dated July 30, given to the tribal villages last week, also talks of having a seven-person monitoring committee for ensuring proper implementation of the master plan. However, here also, it ignores any representative from the tribal dominated area’s 121 tribal villages, which it seeks to identify as part of eco-sensitive zone.
The seven-person monitoring committee would be largely official, or with two “independent” members chosen by the government. There is, however, no mention of giving representation to elected members from the tribal region, let alone representatives of the villages which would form part of the eco-sensitive zone.
Veteran tribal leader Chhotubhai Vasava with others on the rostrum
The committee would iclude the district collector, Narmada; a senior town planner of the area; the regional officer of the GPCB; a representative of the department of forests and environment, Gujarat government; and the deputy conservator of forests, in charge of Shoolpaneshwar Sanctuary, Narmada district.
Then there would be two “independent” members – a non-government organization representative, who would be chosen by the government; and an expert in the area ecology and environment, again chosen by the Gujarat government – and both would be chosen for a period of one year.
With notification in hand, there is a further flareup of tribals of South Gujarat, who say the notification is an “infringement” of their rights. Two well-established organizations, Adivasi Mahasabha and Adivasi Ekta Parishad, held out one the biggest rallies at Dediapada town, off Shoolpaneshwar on September 21, against the proposal for eco-sensitive zone.
Speaking at the 30,000-strong rally, which took place following a 6,000-strong rally a few days back, veteran tribal leader Chhotubhai Vasava said, declaring the area as eco-sensitive zone is “the first step” towards evicting the tribals from the region.
According to him, there is “no talk about tribals’ forest rights, as stipulated in the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006, nor is there any talk about community rights of the forests, in the notification.”
“There has not been any consultation with the gram sabhas either, as required by the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA), 1996, a law enacted by the Government of India to cover the scheduled areas to ensure consultation of the tribals before triggering any developmental project”, he pointed out.

Comments

TRENDING

Whistle-blowing IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt's wife suspects foul play after truck hits her car

By Nachiketa Desai*
Paranoia has seized Shweta Bhatt, wife of suspended Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Sanjiv Bhatt, after the car she was driving was rammed in broad day light. According to Shweta Bhatt, it was beacon light-flashing truck without registration number plate. The incident took place on January 7, just a day ahead of the Gujarat High Court was scheduled to take up the bail application of Sanjiv Bhatt, arrested last year for "involvement" in a 23-year-old case.

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

Morari Bapu, who has installed new statues of Ram, Laxman, Hanuman without weapons

By Sandeep Pandey*
A saint is one who can give some inner peace by his/her voice. This will happen only when s(he) will talk about love and harmony. Morari Bapu is one saint who has been conveying the message of love, peace, harmony, fraternity, etc. Today when a number of saffron clad figures with aggressive posture, spewing venom, fanning hatred to polarise voters are at the forefront of politics of Hindutva it is a relief to see Morari Bapu in a different mould.

99% MGNREGA funds "exhausted", Govt of India makes no additional sanctions: Study

Counterview Desk
A letter, addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and prepared by senior activists led by Aruna Roy on behalf of the Peoples’ Action for Employment Guarantee (PAEG), and signed, among others, by 80 members of Parliament, has regretted that, despite repeated public statements by his government promising employment and job creation that will boost the country’s growth, the country’s only employment guarantee programme, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), “is being systematically undermined.”

Nuclear reactors sought from French giant "not safe": Letter to Modi on Jaitapur project

Counterview Desk
Amidst reports that the French nuclear giant EDF has submitted a “techno-commercial offer” for the world’s largest nuclear power park proposed in Maharashtra’s Jaitapur nuclear power park in Jaitapur on the Maharashtra coast, Dr EAS Sarma, India’s former Union Secretary in the Minister of Power, and an eminent voice in the civil society, has written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who also heads Department of Atomic Energy (DAE),  protesting the move.

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Rejoinder: Worldwide anxiety post-Fukishima is fading, slowly and steadily

By Dr KS Parthasarathy* 
EAS Sarma, former Secretary, Government of India (GoI) in a letter addressed to the Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), GoI, stated that, there has been "worldwide anxiety about the consequences of catastrophic nuclear accidents, either due to manual lapses or natural calamities" (Counterview, December 2, 2018). "In the recent years, globally, the pace of growth of nuclear power has escalated in leaps and bounds, causing a great deal of public concern and apprehension."

Kerala land being acquired using "draconian, anti-people" National Highway Act, 1956

Counterview Desk
In a letter Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan, senior activists and politicians have insisted that the Kerala government should not agree to "inhuman displacement and buid-operate-transfer (BOT) Toll system", imposed by the Government of India and the National Highway Authority of India, for widening the current National Highway (NH) 66.

Kaiga NPP expansion: Karnataka to get just 400 MW, but lose thick forest, fresh water

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to the chairman and members of the Atomic energy Commission (AEC) on the issue of Kaiga nuclear power plant (NPP) expansion plan in Karnataka, Shankar Sharma, well-known power policy analyst, has argued that that in case of expansion, the site will face “exponential increase in radiation emission risks”, underlining, “Nuclear safety experts identify such a scenario as enhanced risk for NPPs with multiple reactors and shared technical facilities."
Sharma says the questions that also be asked whether Karnataka should lose more than 54 hectares of thick forests and about 152,304 cubic meters of fresh water per day from Kali river for a meager benefit of 400 MW from the Kaiga NPP, for which “there are many benign alternative options available for the state at much lower overall costs to the state.”
Text of the letter: This has reference to the public hearing under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Rule 2006 of Ministry of Environment, Fore…

Uttarakhand High Court: Biodiversity boards can impose fees on Ramdev's Divya Pharmacy

By Mridhu Tandon
In a significant decision, the Uttarakhand High Court on December 21, 2018 has dismissed the writ petition filed by Divya Pharmacy founded by Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balakrishnan, challenging the demand of the Uttarakhand Biodiversity Board (UBB) imposing fees under the provisions of the Fair and Equitable Benefit Sharing (FEBS).