On one hand, where the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is making all preparations for the inauguration of the “Statue of Unity” of Sardar Patel – the tallest statue in the world – to be unveiled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, there are thousands of tribal villagers on the other hand, who are planning massive protests against the same.
“Statue of Unity”, dedicated to the first Home Minister of the country Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel would be opened for public on the birth anniversary of the ‘iron man’ on October 31.
The structure is being constructed on an island near Sardar Sarovar Dam on the Narmada River in Gujarat.
According to news agency IANS, the local tribe organisations have claimed that the Statue of Unity project has adversely affected nearly 75,000 tribals.
The tribals have alleged that their land were taken away for the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Project, which is near the statue site.
“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,” IANS quoted Dr. Praful Vasava, a tribal leader, as saying.
As per the traditions here, food is not cooked in a tribal village when somebody dies and the village is in a mourning state.
Vasava said that they respect Sardar Patel and this idea of giving him honour but the project was against the tribals and thus, they are opposing it.
“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 further said.
Their agitation is being supported by around 100 small and big tribal organisations and a total of nine tribal districts will be joining the protest.
Out of the 72 villages affected by the project, rehabilitation has not been allegedly completed in 19 villages whereas seven villages in Garudeshwar block have been paid compensation but other promises such as land and jobs have not been met yet.