Faced with opposition by tribals unwilling to give up their land to the Kevadia Area Development Authority (KADA) for developing the area and setting up of the proposed Statue of Unity, the state government has invited the representatives from the 70 villages, located close to the project site, to Gandhinagar on Tuesday for a meeting on the matter.
Around 150 villagers are expected to meet ministers Nitin Patel, Anandiben Patel, Ganpat Vasava, as well as the chairman of Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL) and the KADA CEO at Narmada Nigam Bhavan in Gandhinagar on Tuesday.
The government is also trying to avoid any possible disruption of the foundation laying ceremony by Chief Minister Narendra Modi that is due to be held on October 31, the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
The district administration has arranged for them to be taken to Gandhinagar by state transportation buses, Narmada Collector Rakesh Shankar said. He said he had a meeting with the aggrieved villagers on Friday, in which he sought their consent for the meeting.
The villagers had staged a protest after KADA, formed to develop the area primarily for tourism purposes, sought the consent of the village panchayats for acquisition of land. Now they have agreed to meet the ministers on Tuesday.
Social activist Rohit Prajapati, who was part of the October 3 protest, organised at Indravarna village in Narmada’s Nandod taluka, said the government had finally woken up to the demands of the villagers and taken them seriously. “Now they want to discuss the issues with the villagers because they have understood that the protest was serious,” he said.
Tribals have demanded that the government takes back the proposal to develop tourism infrastructure in the area through KADA, which is being undertaken alongside the construction of the world’s largest, the 182-metre Statue of Unity.
They also want a stop order on construction work on Garudeshwar Weir, which they said was meant mainly for tourism, but which could affect around a dozen villages in the region. They have also asked for water from Narmada and Karjan dams for irrigation purpos