Tribal meet trains guns on bul­let train land ac­qui­si­tion

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - TIMES CITY - Priyanka.Kakod­kar @times­group.com

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.

S L Shanth Ku­mar

UP IN ARMS: Trib­als from across the state at Azad Maidan on Thurs­day

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