Skip to main content

Without tribal consent? 1,000 of 1,700 acres 'acquired' off Statue of Unity, Narmada dam

By Our Representative 
The Gujarat government has already acquired 1,100 acres out of 1,700 acres of the tribal land of six villages – Navagam, Limdi, Gora, Vagadia, Kevadia and Mithi – for developing tourism next to the 182-metre high Statue of Unity, the world's tallest, putting at risk the livelihood option of their 8,000 residents, and is all set to acquire rest of the land, representatives of the villagers have alleged in Ahmedabad.
Talking with mediapersons in the presence of former BJP chief minister Suresh Mehta, a local leader, Lakhan Musafir, who has been involved the tribals downstream of the Narmada dam over the last six years, said, “The government promised to the tribals that they would be involved in the tourism project by encouraging them to open restaurants and become tourist guides, and that tourists could stay at their houses as paying guests.”
Musafir is known to be one of the few local leaders who is put under house arrest and detained whenever a function involving a top dignitary, ranging from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, is held next to the Statue of Unity.
Asserting that they have been “deceived”, as none of this has been realised, a tribal activist, Ramakrishna Tadvi, said, “The tribal farmers were first turned into hawkers, now then they were reduced to jobless workers. The only job they are now randomly offered is to clean up toilets and roads, for which they are offered a mere Rs 170 per day, which is less than the minimum wage.”
Mehta, who led a team of prominent citizens from Ahmedabad which visited the villages next to the Narmada dam before asking them to come to Ahmedabad for addressing the media, said, “Their land has been taken away from them without their consent in violation of the Panchyats Extension to Scheduled Area (PESA) Act, under which the government cannot acquire tribal land without the nod of the gram sabha.”
Lakhan Musafir
Jayendrasinh Jadeja, another veteran politician who formed part of the team,  alleged, a Rs 200 crore hotel has been leased out for a mere Rs 1 crore, and the profits from the tourism project are "not being shared" with the villagers, whose land has been acquired.
Even as Mehta pointed out that “the land acquisition is also in violation of Section 24 of the the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013”, the villagers present on the occasion showed copies of the gram sabha resolutions rejecting handing over any land.
One of the villagers, Laxmiben Tadvi, said, the state government has “leased out” for lakhs one plot of land belonging to her village for a food parlour and another for parking for the tourists without her consent. “When we go around seeking return of the land for cultivation, the police pounces on us and we are asked to go away”, she said.
Another villager, Govindbhai Tadvi, sarpanch of Vagadia village, said, “The state government organizes big functions next to the Statue of Unity, and all of our land is used for this without our consent. In fact, during functions, we are not even allowed to come out of our residence, fearing we would protest.”
villagers asserted that the land of the Kevadia village, which was taken away by the state government for offices for the Narmada dam in 1960s, is now being “illegally” used for Shreshth Bharat Bhavan and other tourism-related projects. They demanded, as the dam has been completed, the land should be returned to them, and cannot be used for a tourism project.
They said, in all, the danger looms large over 72 tribal villages of the Garudeshwar taluka next ot the Narmada dam and the Statue of Unity. Meanwhile, their agriculture, cattle, life and livelihood have been dislocated.
“We have been dispossessed of their jowar and bajra crops. Instead of rotlas, the tourists are being offered pizzas and burgers. Around 300 tribal hawkers and vendors have now been evicted. The government appears to think that our shadow shouldn’t pollute the tourists”, said a villager.

Comments

TRENDING

Mallika Sarabhai releases speech she was 'not allowed' to give at NID Convocation on Feb 7

Counterview Desk
The National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad, a Ministry of Commerce and Industry body, landed itself in controversy following its decision to put off its 40th convocation ceremony, where noted danseuse Mallika Sarabhai was invited as chief guest. The ceremony was scheduled to be held on February 7.

Modi, Shah 'forget': Gandhi’s first Satyagraha was against citizenship law of South Africa

By Nachiketa Desai*
Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi once on January 30, 1948 but his followers raising the war cry of ‘Jai Sriram’ are killing the Mahatma every day. In his home state of Gujarat, Gandhiji was killed a thousand times in 2002 when over 2,000 Muslims were butchered, their women raped, homes and shops plundered and set on fire and even unborn babies ripped out of the wombs of their mothers.

Across the board, among Muslims, Hindus, there's enormous fury at Delhi Police: Report

Counterview Desk
A quick report, prepared by Delhi's concerned citizens, "Let Us Heal Our Dilli", based on one-day visit (February 27) to several areas and mohallas of North East Delhi affected by the riots that gripped the country's capital -- Bhajanpura, Chand Bagh, Gokulpuri, Chaman Park, Shiv Vihar, Main Mustafabad (including Bhagirathi Vihar and Brijpuri) -- has said everywhere there is "zero trust" towards that the police.

As corona virus 'travels' to rural areas, NGO begins training tribals, marginalised women

By Souparno Chatterjee*
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared corona virus a pandemic. Originating from Wuhan in China, it has traversed the entire globe, almost, and claimed more than 16,000 lives already. That’s largely the urban population. In India, despite all the preparedness and war-like promptness to safeguard against the pandemic, several lives have been lost , and hundreds of individuals have tested positive.

Rani Laxmi Bai, Tatya Tope 'martyred' by East India Company, Scindia's forefathers

By Our Representative
In an email alert to Counterview, well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam has said that was “shameful for any political party in democratic India to keep children of Sindhias in their flock” given their role during the First War of Indian Independence (1857). In a direct commentary on Madhya Pradesh Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia moving over to BJP, Prof Islam has quote from a British gazetteer to prove his point.

Big 'danger' of NPR: A babu can tag anyone as doubtful citizen, Jharkhand meet told

' By Our Representative
People in large numbers from across Jharkhand gathered at the Raj Bhawan in Ranchi to demand that the Hemant Soren government reject National Population Register (NPR) and stop all NPR-related activities. The people’s organisations which participated in the dharna under the banner of the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JMM) resolved to intensify their struggle, insisting, NPR is not a Hindu-Muslim issue but is essentially anti-poor.

COVID-19: Dalit rights bodies regret, no relief plan yet for SCs, STs, marginalized

By Our Representative
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the National Dalit Watch-National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, endorsed* by several other Dalit rights organizations, have insisted, the Government of India should particular care of the scheduled castes and tribes, trans folks, persons with disabilities and the women and children from these communities, while fighting against COVID-19 pandemic.

Gujarat govt plan to 'banish' Gandhian activist anti-democratic, unconstitutional

By Rohit Prajapati*
The current Central and Gujarat governments, and their bureaucracy, have been and are still unable to answer and address the concerns raised, with facts, figures, and constitutional provisions, regarding the terror of tourism in the name of the Statue of Unity and tourism projects surrounding it.

Haridwar Swamis lead Khudai Khidmatgar peace march in Delhi 'riot affected' areas

By Our Representative
A Khudai Kidmatgar team, which visited the riot-affected regions along with Swami Shivanand Saraswati and Swami Punyanand, has insisted that India's true heritage is the lesson of ‘vasudhaiv kutumbakam', and it is the responsibility of all to carry froward this legacy. Originally founded by Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan in 1930, also known as Frontier Gandhi, Khudai Khidmatgar is claimed to have been revived by young Gandhian activist Faisal Khan in 2011.