Tribals in Gujarat protest against Par-Tapi Narmada river link project

| Updated: March 11, 2022 9:59 pm

As many as 5000 tribals from Waghai in Gujarat’s Dang district held a rally to protest against the Par-Tapi-Narmada river link project.

This is the third time in a month that the tribals have had to come out to protest to safeguard their interests.

The population of Waghai is estimated to be 1,75,000. Of these, 92% are local tribal people and are called “Dangi”.

The Par- Tapi- Narmada river link project is a flagship project of the union government. It covers areas of south Gujarat and Nashik district in Maharashtra.

Prominent among those who took part in the rally was the king of Dang, Bhawar Harshu Singh Suryavanshi. He said that 50,000 tribals will be affected by the construction of these three big dams. He said that if the dams are built, the land and houses of over 1700 families in 35 villages will be submerged.

Dang has been accorded a special status even after the princely states were incorporated into the Republic of India. The forests of Dang are rich in teak wood. These forests are treated as the property of the kings of Dang. Like the British, the present government cuts teak trees and sells the wood. In return, the government pays a political pension to the kings. However, the pension that the government gives to the kings is very minimal.

As per the India Water Resources Information System, the Par-Tapi-Narmada river link project proposes to transfer water from surplus regions of Western Ghats to deficit regions of Saurashtra and Kutch. The work entails building seven reservoirs in north Maharashtra and south Gujarat.

Protesters said that this project imperils the existence of the tribal community as the dams will ruin everything and the village will be submerged. Tribal leaders say that the construction of three huge dams at a cost of over Rs 10,000 crore will make the tribals homeless. If the Narmada link river project is built on Tapi, the tribals will be displaced.

They said that the project may lead to construction of a dam near Chasmandawa village on the Par river in Dharampur taluka of Valsad district

Members of the Legislative Assembly, Anant Patel and Jignesh Mevani, Anand Chaudhary, tribal leaders of south Gujarat and former Union Minister Tushar Chaudhary, were also present at the rally.

A few days ago, a large number of tribals attended a non-political meeting in Jamlapada-Rambhas in Waghai taluka.

Although Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel has assured that he will not let the tribals suffer, the Finance Minister has allocated funds for this river-link project in the budget.

Some Congress MLAs have also raised their voice on this matter in the Assembly.

BJP’s tribal leader of Dang, Valsad Tapi met Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel and BJP state Chief, C.R Patil and conveyed the concern of the tribal society. The Chief Minister had assured that the interests of the tribals would be protected The BJP state while C.R. Patil had said that the project would not be implemented.

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