The tribals in the Aarey Milk Colony vented their ire against the state government's proposed move for a slum rehabilitation authority (SRA) scheme on the Aarey Milk colony land, by holding a protest meeting on Wednesday.
The meeting, which was held at Keltipada in the Aarey Mil colony, was attended by the 150 panchayat pramukhs (community leaders) of the 27-odd adivasi padas (settlements).
The tribals also protested against the state's move to dereserve the land from the Aarey Milk Colony's No-Development Zone (NDZ) and to convert it into a residential zone and a Muslim cemetery and Hindu crematorium.
The tribals, who also met deputy chief minister RR Patil to protest the moves, will also organise a morcha on the Azad Maidan on November 29.
Said Vilas Thakare, a resident of the Keltipada who attended the meeting, "We are happy in our padas and don't need flats in which the state wants us to shift. Staying in flats will entail expenses like electricity bills and maintenance, which we cannot afford, and will also deprive us of our traditional livelihoods like cutting grass."
Added Jayashree Gavit, "Adivasis have large joint families and it is impossible to cram a 20 member strong family into a 225 square feet house. Moreover, what do we do about the animals like the goats we rear for a living? Generations of adivasis have lived and died on this land and will continue to do so. If the government is so bothered about our welfare, it should provide us with amenities like water."
Tribal activist Vitthal Lad, who convened the meeting under the banner of the Shramik Mukti Sanghatana, said the government had no right to destroy the traditional livelihood and villages of the tribals. "The government has been unable to provide housing to the economically and socially backward and hence has no right to deprive people of their dwellings," he added.