The tribal community of Bastar organised a rally against the Bodhghat Hydropower Project in Chattisgarh on the occasion of World Tribal Day on Tuesday. People of all tribal communities gathered in their traditional dress, and their traditional weapon, arrow and bow and raised slogans against the implementation of the project.
In Hitalkudum of Bastar, people of tribal community from around 30 villages celebrated Adivasi Day together for the first time.
Around two to three thousand villagers were present in the celebrations and raised their voices for saving water, forest, land (Jal, Jungle, Jameen) and environment protection by organising rally on bike and foot by the thousands.
The rally lasted for 8 kilometers in which slogans were raised with special emphasis on the atrocities on the tribals and the tribal community regarding water, forest and land.
Why was Tribal Day celebrated for the first time in Hitalakudum?
Hitalkudum is the same village in Bastar where the Bodhghat Hydroelectric Project dam, which has been closed for the last 40 years, is to be built. Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel had submitted the proposal to the Centre last year.
The village is situated on the banks of river Indravati, where the Congress government has decided to build this project. The controversial project has been in the news and controversy for the last 40 years. If the project were to be completed, about 56 villages will be submerged and thousands of tribal communities of 56 villages will be rendered homeless.
After about 15 years of the formation of the state, Congress came to power in 2018. Soon, CM Baghel decided to revive the closed project and handed it over to a company named Vyopcase for an agreement period of 40 years.
This has created an atmosphere of panic among the villagers and their opposition to the project has also started intensifying.
In February, around eight thousand people from four surrounding districts gathered and threatened to agitate. At the same place,Tribal Day is being celebrated for the first time by the tribal community in Hitalkudum for the purpose of saving their water, forest and land by the villagers of submerged villages of the region.
Sukhman Kashyap, President of Maa Danteshwari Tribes Hit Raksha Samiti Bodh Ghat said that they have already been fighting and fighting for their culture and water, forest, land, today we are taking away the rights of the tribals. “For this we will continue to raise our voice and take our rights,” he said.
States like Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Nagaland, Mizoram, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Chhattisgarh have got special rights and provisions in the constitution, yet their constitutional rights are exploited by the state and central government.
Further, even though laws like Gram Sabha, PESA Act, Fifth Schedule are applicable for the tribal community in the state of Chhattisgarh the tribal community has to continually fight for their constitutional rights.
In Bastar, Chhattisgarh, tribal communities are now coming straight from the forests to the roads for their demands and rights and are openly opposing the anti-tribal policies of the government.
Atrocities on tribals in Bastar for the last two years such as killing innocent tribals in fake encounters, forcibly filling innocent tribals in jail by calling them Maoists, water, forest, eviction from land, setting up camps of security forces without permission, etc. There has been a tough struggle in the last two years, but even after so much struggle, no favorable outcome for the tribal people.