Tribals to oppose ‘Statue of Unity’ unveiling by Modi

Ahmedabad, Oct 20 (AGENCIES) | Publish Date: 10/20/2018 12:22:01 PM IST

The BJP governments, both at the Centre and the state, gear up for the unveiling of the Statue of Unity - dedicated to independence movement leader Sardar Vallabbhai Patel -- by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 31, thousands of tribals in villages near the site are bracing for a major showdown against the project.

The Statue of Unity is built on the Sadhu Bet river island and is at a distance of 3.5 km from the Narmada dam. 

Standing amidst the scenic background of Narmada river, Satpuda and Vindhyanchal hills, the 182m Sardar Patel’s monument is world’s tallest statue built at a cost of over Rs 2,300 crore.

But all that has not amused the tribals of the region. Their biggest grudge is the government’s approach to taking away the lands that belonged to them.

Local tribal organisations said as many as 75,000 tribals adversely affected by the Statue of Unity project would oppose the Prime Minister and the unveiling of the statue at Kevadia in Narmada district. 

“No food will be cooked in 72 villages affected by the entire project, as we will be mourning on that day, for the project is being carried out for our destruction,” Dr Praful Vasava, a tribal leader was quoted by IANS. Traditionally, food is not cooked in a tribal village when they are mourning for the dead. “Our rights as tribals are being violated by the government. We don’t have anything against the great son of Gujarat, Sardar Patel, and his honour should be maintained. We are not against this development even, but this government’s development idea is lopsided and against the tribals,” Vasava said.

The tribals are complaining that their lands were taken away for the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Project, near which is the statue site, as well as for the statue and all other tourism activities which have been planned in the area.

According to Vasava, this “non-cooperation movement” is being supported by around 100 small and big tribal organisations across the state. 

“Right from Banaskantha in North Gujarat to the Dangs district in South Gujarat, nine tribal districts will be joining us in the agitation,” he said.

“And the ‘Bandh’ will not only be limited to schools, offices or commercial establishments, but households will also be silent (no cooking) on the 31st joining us.”

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