Succumbing to pressure from major tribal protests, led by the Congress, as well as from BJP’s own leaders, the Centre on Monday evening decided to put a halt to the Par-Tapi-Narmada Riverlinking Project in Gujarat.
Except for Par river in Nashik in Maharashtra, the rest of the Rs 10,500 crore project involves rivers of tribal regions in South Gujarat. The project involves diverting excess river waters from Par, Tapi and Narmada to the water-starved Saurashtra and Kutch regions of the State.
A decision to put a halt to the Gujarat side of the project was taken at a meeting between Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and tribal MLAs and MP from Gujarat.
Following a series of huge tribal protests in South Gujarat, the last major demonstration against the project was held in Gandhinagar on Friday when the State Assembly budget session is in progress.
More than 5,000 tribals had gathered in the Gujarat capital Gandhinagar on Friday to protest against the river linking project that threatens to displace hundreds of tribal families in the South Gujarat region
Albeit, several Gujarat Congress leaders, including state president Jagdish Thakor, were detained by the police as they marched towards the State Assembly complex to lodge their protest.
While the police rounded up around 80 Congress workers and leaders from Satyagrah Chhavni ground in sector 6, some 15 Congress MLAs staged a walkout over the issue soon before the House proceedings ended for the day.
Hundreds of tribals had gathered for the ‘Adivasi Satyagrah’, a rally organised by the Congress to raise issues concerning tribals and to protest against the dams proposed to be constructed over three rivers in South Gujarat as part of the Union government’s river link project, said Gujarat Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi.
When the Congress workers and leaders started marching towards the Assembly on the appeal of Jagdish Thakor, police swung into action and detained nearly 80 protestors, including Thakor, Gujarat Congress in-charge Dr Raghu Sharma, state working president Hardik Patel, Leader of Opposition Sukhram Rathwa, former LoP Paresh Dhanani and former state unit president Amit Chavda.
The Par-Tapi-Narmada river-linking project proposes to transfer water from surplus regions of Western Ghats to deficit regions of Saurashtra and Kutch, with the work including building seven reservoirs in north Maharashtra and south Gujarat.