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Thursday, July 29, 2021

Gujarat: BJP tribal leader Mansukh Vasava resigns from party

Vasava's resignation comes a week after he wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking withdrawal of MoEFCC notification declaring 121 villages of Narmada district as 'eco sensitive zone'.

By: Express News Service | Vadodara |
Updated: December 30, 2020 4:15:18 pm
Mansukh Vasava (Source: Lok Sabha archives)

BJP’s Lok Sabha MP from Bharuch and tribal leader Mansukh Vasava Tuesday resigned from the party. In a letter to Gujarat BJP president C R Paatil, Vasava stated he will submit his resignation as a Member of Parliament to the Lok Sabha Speaker during the upcoming Budget Session

The BJP leader, who is slated to meet senior BJP leaders at his Rajpipla residence Wednesday, told The Indian Express, “I have resigned due to my age-related health issues. I have been nursing some back and spine issues that are also triggering migraines. I have told the party previously that it is difficult for me to undertake extensive travelling in the constituency, especially with so many important elections coming up at the taluka panchayats and district level. The resignation is purely for my personal reasons and I do not intend to withdraw it. I have already assured the party that I will be available as any other primary member of the party for whatever work is needed of me. I have no grouse with either the party or the government.

His resignation comes days after he wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking the withdrawal of a Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) notification declaring 121 villages in Narmada district as an eco-sensitive zone to “mitigate the protests” by tribal communities.

Vasava, who has raised several tribal issues in the past, however, said the issue of the eco-sensitive zone should not be associated with his resignation. “The issue of including Narmada villages in the eco-sensitive zone is important and it has been there for five years. It is not a recent issue. It is not the reason for my resignation from the party. But I am hopeful that the government will move in the direction of resolving the issue soon for the locals. The government has, in the past, been receptive to the issues I have raised for tribal development,” Vasava said.

In his letter to Paatil, Vasava stated, “The party has given me opportunities beyond my capacity. I will always be grateful for this to the central leadership. I have been carefully adhering to the principles of the party as well as my personal belief system. But at the end of the day, I am a human, bound to err. So that my mistakes do not cause damage to the party, I am tendering my resignation. Please forgive me. I will also submit my resignation as Member of Parliament to the honourable Lok Sabha Speaker during the upcoming Budget Session.

On Tuesday evening, several supporters from Dediapada and Sagbara units of the parliamentary constituency of Narmada district — much of which falls under the eco-sensitive zone—gathered outside Vasava’s Rajpipla residence with resignation letters

Meanwhile, senior BJP functionaries, sources said, have rushed to request Vasava to reconsider his decision. Paatil told reporters that the party was hopeful of a solution soon. “In the letter sent to me, Vasava only mentioned that he will quit as an MP during the budget session. He is unhappy over some issues and I discussed them with Chief Minister Vijay Rupani this morning… We are trying to convince Vasava and I am confident of a solution on this issue soon,” Paatil said

A six-term MP, Vasava had earlier extended his support to the ongoing opposition of the tribals to May 5, 2016, MoEFCC notification that declares areas around Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary, including 121 villages around the Statue of Unity, as eco-sensitive zone

His December 20 letter to the PM seeking withdrawal of the notification had come on a day when the General Administration Department of the state government had released a two-layer management plan for the Statue of Unity Area Development and Tourism Governance Authority, or the Statue of Unity Tourism Authority (SoUTA). Under the proposal, 201 personnel were to be recruited for operation and maintenance of water supply, sewage lines, roads, parking, lights as well as decorative lighting in the area of 25 sq metres in Kevadia colony

Two days ago, former Gujarat BJP MLA from Dediapada Assembly constituency of Narmada district, Motilal Vasava, who is also the party’s state tribal cell leader, had written to the sarpanches of the 121 villages to use the upcoming gram sabhas to pass resolutions against the government order for implementation of the MoEFCC notification

A letter issued by the local Narmada mamlatdars to villages under their territorial jurisdiction from November 7 onwards, said, “As per the letter of the Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF), Narmada, dated January 21, 2020, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has published a final notification declaring eco-sensitive zone around Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary in Narmada on May 5, 2016. Accordingly, as per the provisions of the said notification of the central government, several activities will now stand prohibited in the eco-sensitive zone. The lands in the eco-sensitive zone — including that of the forest department, horticulture department, for agricultural use, plots reserved for parks — will not be allowed to be transferred for non-agricultural use, like commercial, industrial or residential purposes.

The letter stated that any land that needed to be transferred for non-agricultural use would be allowed to do so only after a “mandatory approval for such a transfer is sought from the state government”, based on an application of the monitoring committee.

“Right now, the area in the periphery of the Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary has been included under the eco-sensitive zone and the entire village has been included in this list. Since the area is now under the notification of eco-sensitive zone, the process has been initiated to include the state government as the second owner of the lands in the villages as per their revenue survey numbers”, it stated. The inclusion of the state government in the Record of Rights prescribed under Village Form VII of the Land Revenue Records was made as per the notification of the central government, it added

In their objection, the villagers have cited “complete hold” on their lands, as guaranteed by the Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 (or PESA) — a law enacted by the Government of India for ensuring self-governance through traditional gram sabhas for people living in the Scheduled Areas of India.

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