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Adivasis protest against land-grab  

Adivasis in the Dhule district are on a mass agitation against private companies and the government for acquiring the adivasi lands for various wind energy projects in Dhule district. A delegation will be meeting the Forest Minister Babanrao Pachpute at Mantralaya on Wednesday.

The government has allotted 339 hectares of land to various companies in Dhule district for various projects. The farmers instead demanded that they should be allotted the land as it is very much fertile. The adivasis are cultivating on the lands since decades which the government has now declared as ‘illegal’ stating it as the part of forest land, and thereby government property. The adivasis are on an agitation for acquiring ownership rights for their land. They alleged that the police along with 40 vehicles entered their village and started thrashing the people they found on the roads in July 2007.

“The companies are cutting down the trees on a massive scale. They are using the land for their commercial purpose. Justice is denied to the poor adivasis. The adivasis are fighting for this lands since ages” said Kishore Dhamale, Co-coordinator of Satya Sodhak Gramin Kashtakari Sabha (SGKS).

The agitation for securing ownership rights of the forest land dates back from the early sixties. The companies believe that employment opportunities will rise once the projects are constructed, but the villagers have a different take. “We are uneducated people working in farms. The companies will deploy only those people who are educated enough to work in the companies.” said an emotionally charged Mirulal Pawar(32), a adivasi residing in Pangam village. The SGKS association has put forth various demands. “Wherever projects are encroaching on forestlands, equivalent land should be allotted adjacent to the existing one with compensation for the loss of cultivated land,” said Dr. Anand Teltumbde the Chief of Committee for protection of democratic rights.

There are a total of nine companies which will set up wind turbine towers which are expected to affect a large number of adivasis in Dhule district.


29 August 2007

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