Tribals from villages around Statue of Unity protest

Tribals from villages around Statue of Unity stage protest

Hundreds of tribals from 14 villages around the Statue of Unity on Sunday formed human chains against acquisition of their land by the Gujarat government for development of the area, which they said would affect their livelihood.

On the occasion of the Indigenous Peoples' Rights Day, residents protested peacefully outside their villages by holding placards and banners.

One of their main demands included the cancellation of the recently-enacted Statue of Unity Area Development and Tourism Governance Act, an activist said.

The act gives power to the government to acquire land across these villages for any development projects in the area around the world's tallest 1,182-metre statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.

People from 50 tribal-dominated talukas in 16 districts in eastern Gujarat took part in the protests organised by Adivasi Samanvay Manch, said activist Praful Vasava.

"The state government is forcibly taking away farmland owned by tribals that forms the basis of their livelihood in the name of development projects," he alleged.

He said a large number of tribals were displaced because of the projects.

"We demand that the government grant us rights under the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act," he said.

When asked about protests, Narmada district superintendent of police Himkar Singh said tribals marked the Indigenous Peoples' Rights Day on Sunday.

"They just came out of their houses on road to protest and they did so peacefully. Similar events were organised all over the district and in other parts of Gujarat," the police officer said.