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South Gujarat river interlinking scheme to "displace" tribals, farmers of 288 villages

Romel Sutariya, AKSM leader (middle)
South Gujarat’s tribal rights organization, Adivasi Kisan Sangharsh Morch (AKSM), has raised the alarm that the ambition river interlinking project, Par-Tapi-Narmada Link Scheme, is likely to lead to acquisition of 10,559.70 hectare (ha) of land, of which 4,439.40 ha is forest land. Of this, only 967.80 ha is government land, while the rest belongs to farmers, including tribal farmers, or is forest land.
Under the scheme, says AKSM in a statement, the Government of India claims, the rainwater floods which flood the Ukai dam will be diverted to Maharashtra, so that several areas of South Gujarat are saved of excessive flooding. “This is travesty of the truth”, the tribal rights body states, adding, “The main issue is, are the tribal farmers of Gujarat going to be benefited from the scheme. The answer is a clear no.”
Those who suffer because of the river interlinking scheme are tribals belonging to as many as 288 villages of Valsad, Tapi, Navsari, Surat, Narmada, Vadodara and Dang districts. “We demand the government should reconsider this scheme and begin a dialogue with the tribals who are likely to be affected by the scheme”, AKSM, in a statement signed by its director Romel Sutariya, adds.

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