Since the last two days a number of adivasis from original village Karda, resettled at Amroli in Naswadi Taluka in the newly carved out Chhota Udaiput District; especially women, children and the elderly, sat on a dharna and fast, along with livestock!
Reason being, 23 families with more than a 100 members, were given notices to leave the vasahat (resettlement site) with no time stipulation! As the original Sardar Sarovar villages were submerged, many of these families were brought here two decades ago and were permitted by the State to reside in and cultivate the lands.
The same oustees are now being branded as "encroachers" and are being asked to quit. As the oustees were unrelenting a few officers came on the spot, but there was no resolution. The oustees were then told that they would be given a "solace period" of 90 days, during which they would not be evicted, but they have to get orders from the GRA within this period. This is an unworkable approach since the GRA sends back cases to the state agency SSPA, which itself takes 70 days!
One 80 year old man who also insisted to sit on fast fell very ill and had to be admitted to the hospital. More than 60 of women, children and elders were taken into custody at 7:30 p.m. in the night as they remained firm on their demand that they be given a written assurance of not being evicted.
Oustees from Kevadia colony also supported the struggle by these adivasis. It may be noted that the Govt. of Gujarat has taken an unjust move to evict the SSP affected adivasi families from the resettlement sites where they were shifted from their original villages on the banks of Narmada, 15-20 years ago. A list of more than 1,000 oustees was prepared a few years ago, whose names the officials claimed were not found in the "computerized lists" and hence they should be 'sent back' to the original villages!
Notices were issued to a few and a handful of families such as that of Natwar Sama, originally from Village Jher. This list includes even those families who were rightfully declared as PAFs and there is no reason or justification to evict them. Moreover, their farms, houses in the original villages are either submerged or have been inaccessible, over the years.
Another list of 281 PAFs has now been obtained under RTI, out of the list of 1,000, who would be evicted shortly. Swords are hanging! The people are furious not only because such a large number of families are threatened of eviction, but also because a large number of them are left landless and jobless in the age group of 30 45, since the cu-off date for Gujarat was as early as 1987 and those who were not 18 years old then were included in the list of PAFs. Many R&R sites have no assured source of irrigation in the command areas and the rest are outside the command. There are PAFs who have received less land or land to be affected by canals again and others have claims to benefits as PAFs, but their cases are pending before the Grievances Redressal Authorities. The GRAs are generally handing over the complaints to the SSPA, asking the oustees to wait for 70 days, for providing redressal, after which the PAF has to again approach the GRA, which is cumbersome for the poor, non-literate tribal oustees. The anger and anguish of Gujarat's PAFs is being reflected in a series of incidents and there have been many in the past few days when a large number of oustees literally rose in a large gathering and questioned the claims of the Shri. Saurabh Patel, Minister of Power and Shri Vijay Rupani, Minister for Transport that rehabilitation in Gujarat is "complete" and "nothing remains". They refused to listen to the "bhashans" of the Ministers and insisted that they be heard on their everyday problems. The anger was so evident that the Ministers had to go back, leaving the programme mid-way. Is the State listening to its own people?