Gujarat: Preparations to uproot tribals in the name of Par-Narmada-Tapi Link Project!

Vivek Sharma News Click 18 May 2022

The people of the tribal community of Gujarat have been forced to take to the streets to fight against the present government to save water, forests and land.

Although the tribal society has always been marginalized in this country, but these days in Gujarat, this society has been forced to go into the abyss due to the capitalist policies of the BJP government. The policies of the BJP-led government of Gujarat have forced the tribals to such an extent that at present, when the entire country is troubled by the harsh conditions like heat wave, poverty, inflation, the people of the tribal community of Gujarat are demanding water, forest and land from the present government. They have been forced to take to the streets to fight for their survival.

People from all the tribal communities of Gujarat have been protesting continuously for the past few days against the ambitious project of Gujarat Government, Par-Tapi-Narmada River Linking Project. Because this project will be established in those areas of Gujarat which are tribal dominated areas. Now if this project is completed then in that situation the agricultural and highly fertile land of the tribal people will be acquired by the Gujarat government. But the tribal people do not want to give their lands to the government under any circumstances. In this context, an atmosphere of war has arisen between the government and the tribal society in Gujarat. So far, four major demonstrations have taken place on behalf of the tribals regarding this matter. The first major demonstration by the tribal community took place on 28 February in Dharampur in Valsad district, the second demonstration took place on 5 March in Tapi district. The third protest took place in Dangs district on 11 March and the fourth protest took place in Kaprada in Valsad district. This protest has the support of the entire tribal society, Tribal Coordination Forum, Tribal Ekta Parishad and Congress MLA Anant Patel of Navsari and Congress MLAs of South Gujarat.

Link project is a nightmare for tribals

Congress leader Mohanbhai Patel says that in Gujarat, the tribal people are facing the same problems due to the Statue of Unity project. The government has forcibly acquired the land of the farmers, now after this the Par-Narmada-Tapi Link Project. In the name of government, the government is once again bent upon doing injustice to the tribals. Firstly, the government has made changes in the tribal land law and on top of that, after this ignorance, the tribals will be left with nowhere. According to media reports, 50,000 tribals will be affected by this project. Due to which the tribals are on the streets.

In this project, three major rivers of Gujarat are to be linked together. These three rivers are Par River originating from Nashik district of Maharashtra and flowing through Valsad district of Gujarat, Tapi River originating from Saputara which flows through Maharashtra and Surat, and Narmada which originates from Madhya Pradesh and flows through Maharashtra and Gujarat. Narmada and flows towards Bharuch district. All these three rivers are to be connected by a common canal so that the excess water that flows directly into the Arabian Sea can be diverted and given to Saurashtra and Kutch districts of Gujarat. Tapi and Narmada are to be linked together. Its objective is to provide irrigation and drinking water from the surplus areas of the Western Ghats of Gujarat to the drought-prone Saurashtra and Kutch districts of Gujarat. Along with this, canals have to be constructed to provide water for irrigation and drinking water to the surrounding areas.

Mainly 7 dams are to be constructed in this link project, it includes Jheri, Kevalan, Mohankavchali, Paikhed, Chasmandwa and Chikkar dams. Apart from these, construction of two tunnels is also involved which will be of length of 5 kilometers and half a kilometer respectively. These will be connected by the construction of a 395 km long main canal on which six power plants are to be constructed. Out of 7 dams, only one dam Jheri is to be constructed in Nashik district of Maharashtra, the remaining six dams are to be constructed in Valsad and Dang districts of Gujarat. These districts are tribal dominated.

What will be the fate of tribal villages?

According to the report of the National Water Development Agency, about 6065 hectares of land will be submerged due to the reservoir construction of the proposed dams. Due to this, 61 villages in tribal areas will be affected, out of which one village will be completely submerged and 60 villages will be partially submerged. A total of 2509 families will be affected as a result of the adverse effects of the link project. The construction of Kevalan reservoir alone will affect 793 families from 17 villages in Gujarat. 563 families will be affected by Dabdar reservoirs, 379 families will be affected by Chasmandwa reservoir spread across seven villages, 345 families will be affected by Chikkar reservoir and 331 families will be affected by Paikhed reservoir. According to the NWA report, after the construction of these reservoirs, the houses and lands of the affected families will be submerged. According to the report, the families falling under the JD of the reservoirs will be compensated and resettled.

But this is the main reason for the tribal people who believe that the government will go back on its promise and they will be of no use. Because in the past also the tribals have had to bear the brunt of Gujarat’s one-sided development.

Development or destruction!

It is not that only the innocent poor and helpless tribals of Gujarat are troubled by the Par-Tapi-Narmada Link Project. Even before this, these tribals have come under the influence of one-sided development of the Gujarat government.

If we talk about Ukai Dam project then according to media reports this

The tribals of Limbi village in Tapi district were deprived of their land due to the Ukai Dam project. They were forced to protest over the compensation amount and were eventually displaced from their own village. Now in today’s era, these oppressed people neither have their own forest nor land, they are forced to survive as laborers in the cities. When we talk to the tribal people about these things, we hear only one answer – what will they do with such development in which their water, forests and lands are snatched away and they have to work as labourers.

The Statue of Unity is a witness to the atrocities against tribals!

You all must be aware that the Statue of Unity memorial which houses the world’s tallest building of Sardar Vallabhai Patel has been established in Kevadiya in Narmada district. This area also belongs to the tribal people, when the talk of construction of this memorial was raised, the tribals had protested fiercely against the Gujarat government and against Narendra Modi ji. But Statue of Unity was Modi ji’s dream project. According to media reports, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Unity Trust was formed on 7 October 2010 to prepare its outline, after which the lands of the tribals were acquired against their wish, earlier this area came under the Gram Panchayat but the government It was linked to the Urban Development Act so that there would be no problem in land acquisition. The statue of Sardar was installed, the government took the lands of 14 villages of Kevadiya and surrounding areas and made the tribals here landless. Following the protest, a separate Narmada battalion of the State Reserve Force was formed to blunt the opposition of the tribals. Now this battalion camps at the project site 24 hours a day.

Educated tribals say that when the voice of protest started rising, the government had promised the jobs of guides to the tribal youth to look after the tourist places. But the government has still not been able to provide jobs as per its promise. The tribals here say that when not many tourists could come to see the Statue of Unity, there was pressure from the Tourism Department to further develop this area, hence now the man-made lake and all the scenic sites are being developed here. . Due to the fertile and green land here and the valleys of the magnificent Narmada Ghat, industrialists are now engaged in building luxurious tourism facilities in this area on a large scale. The tribals claimed that 8000 people from Navagam, Kevadiya, Gora, Limbdi, Vagadiya and Kothi have been affected by the project near the Statue of Unity.

Just imagine how the poor tribals, whose ancestral forests and lands are being made state of the art, and how the owners of those lands would feel doing maintenance jobs at the same tourist places.

The government is also aware of the extent to which the BJP government has dealt with the tribals, hence at present a damage control strategy has been adopted on this issue for a few days, because there are elections in the state this year.

Politics also heated up regarding tribal issues

Elections are to be held in Gujarat in November-December this year, the BJP government is well aware of the displeasure of the tribals and at the same time the BJP government also understands very well that 15 percent tribal people reside in Gujarat. Therefore, the phase of manipulation is going on from the government side also, if sources are to be believed, the government will remain in power only till the elections under the pressure of continuous protests by the tribals, hence at present, on all the burning issues of the tribals, either the government employees are busy in pacifying the tribals or There is currently silence on these issues.

Rahul Gandhi sounded the bugle of tribal satyagraha from Gujarat

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on the spot heated up tribal politics and breathed more life into these matters by holding a tribal Satyagraha rally from Dahod, a tribal dominated area of Gujarat, on 10th May. While raising the slogan of Jal, Jungle, Zameen for the tribals, Rahul clearly held the BJP responsible for marginalizing the tribals in Gujarat. Rahul even promised that if the Congress government is formed in Gujarat, then the tribals will Pending compensation will be given, Congress will ban the Par-Narmada-Tapi link project.


It is obvious that even today if anyone has the first right on the water, forests and land of the country, it is only the tribals, in such a situation, do the BJP government of Gujarat and the BJP government at the Center not consider the tribals as a part of the country?

Can BJP preserve rivers and forests better than the people of tribal society?

When will BJP take care of the poor and tribals?

Is BJP hell-bent on forever silencing the voices of those who cannot speak, or whose voices many people do not like to hear?

After all, is the definition of development that destruction should be done first?

Development and environment are two different sides of the same coin, but this does not mean that the environment should be sacrificed in the pursuit of blind development.

After all, for how long will the tribals have to fight the battle for water, forest and land? At present the matter is in abeyance because there are elections in the state, perhaps that is why Modi ji is also seen in rallies among the tribals and also calls them soldiers of freedom.

(The author is an independent journalist. Views are personal.)