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

Rushdie, Pamuk, 260 writers tell Modi: Aatish episode casts chill on public discourse

Counterview Desk
As many as 260 writers, journalists, artists, academics and activists across the world, including Salman Rushdie, British Indian novelist, Orhan Pamuk, Turkish novelist and recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in literature, and Margaret Atwood, Canadian poet and novelist, have called upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi to review the decision to strip British Indian writer Aatish Taseer of his overseas Indian citizenship.

Visually challenged lady seeks appointment with Gujarat CM, is 'unofficially' detained

By Pankti Jog*
It was a usual noon of November 10. I got a phone call on our Right to Information (RTI) helpline No 9924085000 from Ranjanben of Khambhat, narrating her “disgraceful” experience after she had requested for an appointment with Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani. She wanted to meet Rupani, on tour of the Khambhat area in Central Gujarat as part of his Janvikas Jumbesh (Campaign for Development).

There may have been Buddhist stupa at Babri site during Gupta period: Archeologist

By Rajiv Shah
A top-notch archeologist, Prof Supriya Varma, who served as an observer during the excavation of the Babri Masjid site in early 2000s along with another archeologist, Jaya Menon, has controversially stated that not only was there "no temple under the Babri Masjid”, if one goes “beyond” the 12th century to 4th to 6th century, i.e. the Gupta period, “there seems to be a Buddhist stupa.”

VHP doesn't represent all Hindus, Sunni Waqf Board all Muslims: NAPM on SC ruling

Counterview Desk
India's top civil rights network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), even as describing the Supreme Court's Ayodhya judgement unjust, has said, it is an "assault on the secular fabric of the Constitution". In a statement signed by top social workers and activists, NAPM said, "The judgement conveys an impression to Muslims that, despite being equal citizens of the country, their rights are not equal before the law."

Gujarat refusal to observe Maulana Azad's birthday as Education Day 'discriminatory'

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government decision not to celebrate the National Education Day on !monday has gone controversial. Civil society organizations have particularly wondered whether the state government is shying away from the occasion, especially against the backdrop of "deteriorating" level of education in Gujarat.

Church in India 'seems to have lost' moral compass of unequivocal support to the poor

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*
In 2017, Pope Francis dedicated a special day, to be observed by the Universal Church, every year, as the ‘World Day of the Poor’. This year it will be observed on November 17 on the theme ‘The hope of the poor shall not perish for ever’; in a message for the day Pope Francis says:

Violent 'Ajodhya' campaign in 1840s after British captured Kabul, destroyed Jama Masjid

Counterview Desk  Irfan Ahmad, professor at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen, Germany, and author of “Islamism and Democracy in India” (Princeton University Press, 2009), short-listed for the 2011 International Convention of Asian Scholars Book Prize for the best study in Social Sciences, in his "initial thoughts" on the Supreme Court judgment on the Babri-Jam Janmaboomi dispute has said, while order was “lawful”, it was also “awful.”