Over 100 people from around six villages near the newly inaugurated Statue of Unity marched into the statue complex on Monday and staged a dharna near the ticket counter demanding jobs at the integrated complex.
The people, from villages including Navagaam, Waghadia, Mukhudi, have said that since they live close to the statue, and many of them lost their lands for the construction of first the Sardar Sarovar Dam and then the Statue of Unity, which also included widening of roads and the Shreshta Bharat Bhavan, they should be given priority in the job process.
Sarpanch of Navagaam village, located between the Sardar Sarovar Dam and the Garudeshwar weir Dam, who also joined the protest said, “As many as 52 farmers from my village have been affected. The land which was the main source of our income was acquired. Now we do not even have jobs secured for the next generation. Parts of our farms which were not acquired by the government were washed away after water was released from the weir dam to enhance the beautification of the area around the Statue. We are suffering from every end with no respite or relief in sight.”
Unlike the other protests so far which were led by tribal leaders and activists from the area, the villagers on Monday appeared to have come out in protest on their own without any guidance or directions by any leaders or activists.
According to police, the villagers walked inside the premise of the statue complex till the ticket counter and staged a dharna and raised slogans demanding job opportunities at the SoU. Additional police forces from Kevadiya police station were rushed to the spot to control the situation and disperse the crowd. No detentions or arrests were made, the police said.
The villagers had earlier made representations to the President, Governor, Prime Minister, and Chief Minister among others, demanding that people recruited for any job at the complex should only be from the tribal belt who should also be trained in skill development. They had also urged that the water from the Narmada Dam for irrigation should be first provided to the local farmers.