Vadodara: The Gujarat government has initiated talks with tribal representatives of 70 villages in Narmada district after they opposed land acquisition for a tourism project near the Sardar Sarovar dam at Kevadiya.
"It is a good move by the Gujarat government to negotiate with them after realising the gravity of the issue," Lakhanbhai Musafir of 70 Gam Adivasi Sangthan, an organisation of 70 tribal villages said here on Wednesday.
This move comes in the wake of the Gujarat government deciding to go ahead with the foundation stone laying ceremony of the 182-metre long statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel on October 31 by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
About 145 tribal representatives held talks with three senior ministers, including Revenue Minister Anandiben Patel, Finance Minister Nitin Patel, as well as Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd`s (SSNL) managing director, Musafir said.
They demanded removal of 70 villages from the list of the Kevadiya Area Development Authority (KADA) and extension of rehabilitation benefits given to project affected people and irrigation benefits of Sardar Sarovar dam as well as Karjan river dam to the 70 villages.
Tribals from 70 villages had organised a huge rally on October 2 where they resolved not to part with their land to the KADA tourist project.
Musafir said that 68 village headmen refused to give their consent for acquisition of land saying that he did not want any development at the cost of their livelihood.
Tribals told the ministers that people of six villages evicted from the site of the Sardar Sarovar Dam on April 5, 1961, continue to be deprived of rehabilitation benefits.
"If the Gujarat government has not resolved problems of people of these six affected villages, how can we trust the government," one of the tribals asked the ministers.