Protect tribal land in Gujarat

Spokespersons: Shri Shaktisinh Gohil, Shri Sukhram Rathva, Shri Naranbhai Rathwa, Shri Anant Patel and Prof. Gourav Vallabh: Shri Shaktisinh Gohil said that the Constitution has made a provision for the protection of tribal brothers through Excluded Area Article 6, Partly Excluded Area Article 5 in our Constitution. After this, if we look at the PESA law, Right on Forest Land, if the tribals have rights over the forest land on which they live, if we look at that law. Earlier there was an old Land Acquisition Act. By replacing it, a law was made in the Congress government that if any property belonging to farmer or tribalis to be taken, then how should it be acquired.

In spite of all this, because elections are round-the-corner in Gujarat and our Narmada scheme, because of the formation of that Sardar Sarovar, because I myself have been the minister of that department, irrigation water was to be provided to the farmers for 18 lakh hectares. Modi ji became the Chief Minister there, after which the BJP government assumed power. Water was firstly to be given to humans for drinking purposes, then to the cattle and after that for irrigation of farmer’s field. This plan was made for this, and not for any industrialist friends. But what led to anger among people was that water was given to industrialists and command area was being constantly ignored. Even today, water has not reached in Kutch, nor in North Gujarat, nor in those areas of Saurashtra, where it is needed. So, there is anger among people and they are ready to cause losses to tribal, simply to divert that anger. During elections he will say that look, brothers and sisters! Now I am linking Par-Tapi-Narmada rivers and the water from Tapi will go to Narmada, water from Par will go to Narmada, water from Ambika will go to Narmada and I will deliver water to your fields. This is yet another jumla to the benefit of friends and to the loss of tribals.

Our Anant Patel ji is a young MLA who raised the issue recognizing the truth. There was a huge non-political movement. Thousands of people met and gathered during agitation in Dharampur, Vyara, Dang, Kaprada, Gandhinagar. I salute those awakened tribal leaders for running the movement on a large scale.

Now when it was felt that these tribal brothers took up the movement, our CLP leaders are also tribal leaders, we have more tribal MLAs, Anant Bhai took over the main command. So, the government is not saying anything now because it has already said earlier that we are building Par-Tapi-Narmada link, which will affect at least more than 50,000 tribal families, in which very big forest, we have good forest only in South Gujarat, that whole forest will be ruined. The Government of India did vote bank politics for Kutch, Saurashtra and North Gujarat by talking about that damage to be done, but later when it was felt that it was a big loss of 27 seats, of the scheduled tribe, then instead of the government, the State President of BJP, CR Patil made an announcement that now we will not implement the Par-Tapi-Narmada link scheme, we are stopping it. My question to them is that it is your government, you declare the plan, you do the publicity, then you talk about closing the same scheme and burn firecrackers. What are you celebrating? So, we have some questions about this as well.

I want to reiterate that Congress party has never been against development. But if someone talks about harming thousands of tribal families for the benefit of only a few people, then Congress will surely fight. Even today I demand that 18 lakh hectares of Narmada was the command area for irrigation, why didn’t it happen? Why did water not reach Kutch? Why did water not reach the needy people of Saurashtra? Why is water not going to North Gujarat and why are you giving water to industrialists even though there is no provision for that in the scheme? Government must answer. All three of our leaders will talk to you and after that your questions, if any, will be welcomed.

In 2010, the same scheme was surveyed by the Congress Party. But we saw that water has its natural flow. It is very difficult to carry water in the reverse direction and at the same time more harmful, because the Supreme Court and the High Court have also said that if the natural flow of water is reversed by stopping it, then there will be loss. It should not be stopped. So, in 2010, the Congress did not proceed with this work even after conducting its survey, because this scheme was to cause a lot of loss to the tribals. We could have got three lakh hectares more irrigation water. They don’t work towards it and indulge in gimmicks instead. Wednesday, March 30, 2022