Mumbai

Adivasis in Aarey Colony protest against move to displace them

Fight for rights: Tribal families of Aarey Colony take part in a silent march at Aarey Picnic Point on Tuesday to protest against the government for treating them as encroachers despite being the original inhabitants and rightful owners of the land under The Forest Act, 2006.

Fight for rights: Tribal families of Aarey Colony take part in a silent march at Aarey Picnic Point on Tuesday to protest against the government for treating them as encroachers despite being the original inhabitants and rightful owners of the land under The Forest Act, 2006.   | Photo Credit: Vasant Prabhu

Development Plan 2034 threatens to relocate 1,500 Adivasis residing in 10 hamlets

Tribal families living in Aarey Colony held a peaceful protest on Tuesday against the State government’s Development Plan 2034 that threatens to displace over 1,500 Adivasis residing in 10 hamlets.

The protesters who gathered at Aarey Picnic Point said the government was treating them as slum dwellers and encroachers despite being the original inhabitants and rightful owners of the land under The Forest Act, 2006.

Prakash Bhoir, an Adivasi resident of Aarey Colony, said, “We are the sole occupants of the forest land and have the right to practise farming and use the forest produce to earn our livelihood. But the government is offering us a house in exchange for our land.

“They do not realise that they are promising us one bedroom flats while we now have full-fledged homes. They are overlooking the fact that our homes not only accommodate our family members but also our hens and cows. They are our family as well.”

Mr. Bhoir said they pay the government taxes for their lands, yet it wishes to displace them. He said, “Some of our hamlets do not have basic necessities such as water and electricity. Why don’t they provide us with these amenities instead of the flats they promise?”

The protesters claimed that the area behind the Adivasi settlements was home to a number of slum dwellers who were part of the rehabilitation plan. They were to be relocated into buildings to be constructed by the Slum Rehabilitation Authority, but during the land survey the lands of the Adivasi residents were included in the plan as well.

Amrita Bhattacharjee, member of Aarey Conservation Group, said, “A month ago, notices were issued to a few tribal families asking them to produce documents of their houses, property and farm lands. These notices were intended for the slum dwellers who are illegal occupants of the land.”

The proposal for the development of Aarey Colony is part of DP2034. Residents have been campaigning for the conservation of these lands and safeguarding of the rights of its inhabitants for three years now. The protesters said that a notice for the acquisition of six tribal hamlets for development of a zoo has also been served. The Adivasis are demanding for the revocation of the notice as the land is predominantly used by them for farming.

After the protest, the tribal families met N.V. Rathod, CEO, Aarey Colony, and submitted a petition of their demands to him. He said, “My job is to present the demand of the tribals before the government, and facilitate a channel of communication between the two parties.”

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2020 2:18:08 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/adivasis-in-aarey-colony-protest-against-move-to-displace-them/article19110976.ece

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