Tribal meet trains guns on bullet train land acquisition
Mumbai:“The bullet train is not meant for adivasis. We will not get to ride it. Why should we give our land to it?” asks Madhu Dhodi from Sakhari village in Dahanu. “We don’t have decent roads or electricity. Instead of doing something for us, the government wants to take away our land for a bullet train meant for the rich,” says Dhodi, a Warli tribal .
She was among the hundreds of tribals gathered at Azad Maidan under the banner of the Bhumi Adhikar Andolan (BAA) to protest against land acquisition for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train. The project passes through Dahanu, Palghar district.
They were also demanding the repeal of a state notification in 2017 that dilutes the power of tribal villages to resist land acquisition. The notification waives the need for a gram sabha permission for sale of tribal land to non-tribals in case of a project of vital national importance as long as it is by mutual consent and at a fair price. Gram sabha permission was required under the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act 1996.
Raghunath Sutar from Dahanu resisted a survey on his 5.5-acre paddy field for the bullet train earlier this month. “We received no notice and then a survey team came with a police force of around 150. We gathered a group of aro- und 300 villagers and forced them to leave,” says Sutar.
Locals who were displaced for a dam project were resettled in two villages in Dahanu. “Now they will be displaced again for the bullet train. Is that fair?” asks Sutar.
BAA activists sent a letter of demands to governor C Vidyasagar Rao. “Our main demand is that the notification diluting the PESA Act be repealed,” said Brian Lobo of the Kashtakari Sanghatna.
UP IN ARMS: Tribals from across the state at Azad Maidan on Thursday