Tribals around Statue of Unity protest govt apathy

Our Bureau Ahmedabad | Updated on October 22, 2019

It is alleged that about 5,000 tribals in Kevadia, Limbdi, Gora, Kothi, Navagam and Vagadia are getting ‘displaced’ to accommodate tourism facilities in the area   -  PTI

To demand promised jobs, compensationduring PM’s visit

A group of activists from Kevadia and villages around the Sardar Sarovar Dam is set to protest during the upcoming visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to mark the first anniversary of the Statue of Unity.

The activists include tribal farmers and cattle rearers from six villages around Kevadia. They allege that the government destroyed their conventional livelihood and is not keeping its promise to provide them with alternative employment.

Punabhai Tadvi, a village leader, complained of government apathy towards their livelihood and said the State is not creating an opportunity to earn a living. “They (the government) liked our land, so they came to us asking for it. But they don’t like us, because we are detained every time the Prime Minister visits the place. We are asking only for our rights for a better living. Should we not be a part of the development that he is portraying?” Tadvi said addressing the media here on Tuesday.

It is alleged that about 5,000 tribals in six villages —- Kevadia, Limbdi, Gora, Kothi, Navagam and Vagadia — are- being ‘displaced’ to accommodate tourism facilities.

The land in these villages was acquired for the Sardar Sarovar Dam Project, which was subsequently shifted upstream.

“Today, the same land is being used for Shreshtha Bharat Bhavan and tourism-related projects in gross violation of Section 24 of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Act. Consequently, people are facing the threat of summary eviction. It is important to note that the High Court has ordered status quo in the matter,” said a statement by the activists, led by Sureshbhai Mehta, a former Chief Minister of Gujarat. The 72 villages around Garudeshwar taluka at Sardar Sarovar Dam are covered by Schedule-V and therefore subject to PESA (Panchyats Extension to Scheduled Area) Act, where the government cannot be anything without the consent of the gram sabha (village-level administrative unit). Yet, tribal farmers, animals, life and livelihood have been dislocated, it added.

“The government had promised them compensation and alternative employment. For the same, they were promised training as tourist guides, for housekeeping, security and attendants. It was promised that for every tribal losing a land, seven would get a job. It hasn’t happened and they feel cheated,” said Mehta.

Published on October 22, 2019

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