Ahmedabad: Residents of 70 villages of Narmada district held a meeting yesterday to protest the Kevadia Area Development Authority's (KADA) plan to include their land around Narmada dam into a high-profile tourism spot.
Villagers said they do not want to part with their fertile land as it is the basis of their sustenance.
Land from 16 villages has already been acquired for the project, but when the acquired land was considered insufficient for the project, the state government decided to extend it to 70 villages.
A statement issued at the end of the meeting said, “How can we trust the government to do justice to 70 villages when the issue of six villages which have not been compensated for the destruction of standing crops in 1961, has not been unresolved?”
Land belonging to residents of six villages were taken away in 1961 to build the Sardar Sarovar Colony. The project was completed and farmers were assured of compensation for destruction of standing crops, which they never received.
KADA, which comes under the state urban development department, had decided to develop the area around Narmada dam into a tourist spot comprising luxury hotels, among other attractions, in 2005.
Villagers feared that their children would be forced to work as labourers in hotels and their women would be forced into sex work.
Policemen were deployed in huge numbers for the meeting, while yesterday, the district administration tried to dissuade sarpanches of villages from attending the meeting by inviting them for a meeting to clear “apprehensions”.