Tribals in Mumbai don’t want to be tagged as slum dwellers, protest against rehabilitation scheme

Mumbai city news: They say they have been living there since before the Aarey Milk Colony was established

mumbai Updated: Jun 21, 2017 00:15 IST
Akash Sakaria
Akash Sakaria
Hindustan Times
Mumbai city news,Slum Rehabilitation Authority,Aarey Milk Colony
The tribals protest in Aarey Milk Colony on Tuesday.(HT)

Around 1,000 tribals at Aarey Milk Colony protested against the government’s plan to rehabilitate them under a Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) scheme mentioned in the Development Plan of 2034. They don’t want to be tagged as slum dwellers or give up their 35-acre land for the project.

They say they have been living there since before the Aarey Milk Colony was established. “They will tag us as slum dwellers and usurp our 35-acre land. We come under Adivasi Vikas Vibhag Yojana (the state tribal development department) and we belong here. This is our only place unlike slum dwellers that have ancestral houses outside the city, “ said Prakash Bhoir, an Aarey resident.

Social activists said the tribals are indigenous people and their rights are protected under Forest Right Act 2006. “Now, the government is casking tribals to provide proof of residence and have told them that they will be shifted to buildings,” said Amrita Bhattacharjee, a member of Aarey Conservation Group (ACG), which is campaigning to protect the area from construction.

The tribals said that Forest Right Act 2006 gives them the right to cultivate the land and sell forest produce to earn their livelihood. Aarey is spread over 12 sq km and has 27 adivasi padas (villages) with over 8,000 tribals. Nathu Rathod, Aarey’s chief executive officer said, “After Tuesday’s protest, we will consider the tribals’s demands and see what we can do to make ends meet.”

First Published: Jun 21, 2017 00:15 IST