Exasperated by the government's alleged indifference towards the problems of the adivasis (tribals) and other forest dwellers, nearly 2,000 people from Raigad district marched from Vashi to Mumbai on Sunday.
Protestors hailing from different villages of Raigad halted at Vashi railway station where they raised slogans against the government. They said that the government has turned a blind eye to their plight and that there is no political will to reduce the 'historical injustice' being meted out to adivasis.
Ram Singh, a tribal leader said, "We have been exploited over the years and our legitimate rights to land and the forests are not being recognised under the Forest Rights Act. Despite the pathetic implementation of the Act, the government claims it is well implemented in the state."
"We don't have any legal documents of the land we have been occupying since decades. The government is planning to give the land to owners of windmills, in the name of development.
It should give us proper documents of our land at the earliest. This apart, if the windmills are allowed on our land, the profit should be shared with land owners who have occupied it since the British era," Singh said.
Social activist Ulka Mahajan said, "The difference between the marginalised and the well-off class is increasing in India and has become a matter of serious concern. However, the interest of the grass root level people should not be forgotten."
She added, "Adivasis are facing various problems in the country but few [authorities] are concerned about them."
Thousands of tribals from different parts of the state will march from Shivaji Park to Azad Maidan today.
Estimates say there are more than 10,000 protesters. These tribals will protest at Azad Maidan in south Mumbai, while a small delegation, representing the protestors, will meet chief minister Prithviraj Chavan.