The residents of Jabu village in Pavi Jetpur taluka of Vadodara district have blocked an approach road for the last one week demanding a written assurance from the state government that no truck loaded with sand mined from nearby Orsang river would pass through the village. They said a continuous vehicular movement was adversely affecting their health.
Hundreds of villagers,most of them tribals and Muslims,occupied the 1.5-km Vata-Jabu approach road on May 30. Police and mamlatdar (revenue officer) had rushed the spot to pacify the agitating villagers.
Mamlatdar J B Asari had even imposed a ban on movement of trucks on the road on the same day. However,the villagers refused to call off their agitation demanding the mamlatdar or district collector give them such an assurance in writing. Since then,the villagers have continued the 24-hour blockade and have started a community kitchen.
The road passes by the village and connects Vata village,70 kms from Vadodara,on the bank of Orsang to Bodeli-Chhota Udepur state highway.
We will move off the road only when the mamlatdar or the collector gives us assurance in writing. The lease holders have been telling us that we shall gain nothing out of our protests. But we shall not budge from the spot till we have our way, Hakim Kureshi,a resident of Jabu and a leader of the agitating group,said on Wednesday.
Villagers claim that on an average,500 to 600 trucks loaded with sand pass on the road daily. Due to continuous movement of dumpers,we find dust in our meal. Children are unable to sleep at night and crop on both sides of the road are also damaged. The villagers have fallen victim of cough,asthma and other breathing complications due to the dust, Kureshi added.
Mamlatdar Asari said he has reported the matter to the district mines and minerals department and he would be able to take a call after getting response from higher ups. I have written to the department on the issue. A two-member committee from the district office is to come for a site visit. After they submit their report,I will take necessary action, Asari said.
However,Pravin Bhavsar,geologist at the department,said his department has already suggested a way out. We have prepared and sent a map of alternate routes that the lease holders can use to transport sand. We have asked the mamlatdar to hold a meeting with the lease holders and discuss these routes, he said.
Jetpur Pavi police have deployed two constables at the site of the protest even as,according to sources,miners have diverted their trucks to various routes in the wake of the blockade.
According to Pavi Jetpur mamlatdar,two lease holders mine sand from Orsang near Jabu while six more do the mining from near Vata village.