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Monday , May 01 , 2000
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Dam(n) it, say Songadh tribals

EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE


SURAT, APRIL 30: The tribals of Songadh taluka have opposed the proposed medium-size dams coming up in Virthava and Pahadada villages. The tribals are opposing the move due to fears of displacement. On April 18, a group of about 500 tribal women went to Gira river to stop work on the proposed dam. The workers and Government officials who had arrived with machines were forced to stop work, Naval Gamit told Express Newsline.

Earlier, on April 10, tribals of six villages, which are likely to be affected by the proposed dams, organised a rally at the Taluka headquarters and submitted a memorandum which was also sent to the collector, local MLA Paresh Vasava, Taluka Panchayat President Lilaben. While demanding basic facilities like roads, drinking water, healthcare in the memorandum, the tribals made it clear that they would not allow construction of these two dams ``about which the Government had kept them in dark.''

Residents of six villages -- Ota, Virthava, Malangder, Karvanda, Pahadada and Langad -- have formed a committee to spearhead THE agitation against the two dams. The 15-member committee -- Virthava-Karvanda Sangarsh Samiti -- has also met Collector Sangeeta Singh to apprise her of their apprehensions. Dispelling their fear, Singh reportedly assured the committee members that the dam would not cause any damage.

However, a member of the committee said that as per the plan, the Government is likely to acquire land of at least 15 farmers of Virthava village to construct the dam. The construction of Pahadada village is likely to submerge three villages.

The two dams will be constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 1.35 crore and will irrigate only 600 acres of land, Gamit said. He said that is why ``the Samiti wants the Government to build check-dams, and not medium-size dams which will displace thousands of villagers.''

Former Mandvi MP Chhitu Gamit said he would go to these villages to motivate people. ``I will appeal to them not to oppose the dam since it will boost agriculture in the area, which is the only means of livelihood of tribals.''

The former MP said he asked tribals to demand irrigation facilities, land and proper compensation package for the affected people before rehabilitating them.

Copyright © 2000 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.

 

     
   
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