Gujarat tribals hold rally to protest infrastructure development around Statue of Unity
Intensifying their protests against infrastructure development around Statue of Unity in Gujarat, thousands of tribals Monday took out a 30-km foot rally from Kevadiya to Rajpipla in Narmada district.
Clash between police and tribals were reported last week during the foundation-laying ceremony of Haryana Bhavan in the vicinity of world’s tallest statue, overlooking the Sardar Sarovar Dam in Kevadiya. Residents of over 15 villages have been protesting since Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated 182-metre-high statue in October 2018 and the Gujarat government also invited other state governments to construct own guest houses at the site, which is fast emerging as a top tourist destination.
At the end of rally, various tribal groups including the Bhilistan Tiger Sena, the Adivasi Ekta Parishad, the Samast Adivasi Samaj, the Indigenous Army of India, the Royal Rathwa Group, the Jamin Adivasi Bachao Andolan Samiti, the Adivasi Manasabha and the Primitive Group among others submitted a memorandum to Narmada district collector.
“Along with the demand of immediately putting a break on more infrastructure development in the area, we also want the government to withdraw cases registered against tribal leaders in connection with last week protest against foundation laying ceremony by Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar,” said tribal leader Praful Vasava.
Tribals have been alleging that enough damage has already been caused to their area by the world’s tallest statue project.
“Several tress were cut to make way for new roads even as many tribals have been shifted away from their native villages so that state guest houses can come up,” said Vasava adding, “Though the Kevadiya gram panchayat had passed the resolution that no state guest house will be allowed to be constructed here, the state government organized the ceremony for Haryana government.”
While a tent city offering five-star accommodation has already been built by the Gujarat government to attract tourists, plans to build a water aerodrome in one of the ponds of Sardar Sarovar Dam for the landing of seaplane are underway providing air connectivity to tourists from city like Ahmedabad.