Adivasi Rights!

Adivasi Rights!

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Somesh Gupta started this petition to Chhattisgarh Government and

Help us raise a voice to support the Tribals of Bastar Region, Dantewada to save their habitat threatened by the Bodhghat Irrigation Project!!

The proposal of the Bodhghat irrigation project to be set up near Barsoor Village in Dantewada, first came to light in 1965-1956 in the undivided Madhya Pradesh with the official foundation laid in 1979. The intended project to be built over the river Indravati as an extension aimed to generate 500 MWs of electricity.
However, this proposal was scrapped in 1980
By the then MP government, citing that 'it is not suitable for the tribal-dominated population.'
A study conducted by Madhya Pradesh State Electric Board (MPEB) then also claimed that irrigation in such a vast area isn't feasible.
Around the same time, DOE asked the Wildlife Institute of India in 1989 to study the impact of the Bodhghat project which gave a detailed report in 1990. The report concluded that the Indravati river has a unique riparian system, dotted with islands supporting varied parts of ecology and the dam would submerge these islands threatening the wildlife and the ecosystem as a whole, especially the unique to the area - Bodh fish, which is being threatened to extinction.
The report further concluded that Bastar and nearby areas have south moist tropical deciduous forest and have a mixed tree system dominated by trees like Sal, Sagaon, and Bamboo while the wildlife includes endangered wild animals like forest buffalo, tiger, jackal, leopard etc.
The dam supposed to have a height of 90m with two tunnels of 3 & 5 kilometres would have submerged a total area of 13783.147 hectares (ha) including 5704.332 ha forest land, threatening the fragile ecosystem of the Indravati river. Moreover, the downstream of the dam will create a danger for the wildlife preserved in the Bhairamgarh Wildlife Sanctuary.
Furthermore, the tribal-dominated area with native tribes like Maria, Muria, Jhariya etc (rare tribes), living there since ages will be impacted as they solely depend on minor forest produce for their subsistence, thus in a way taking care of the forests.
The government proposed rehabilitation and resettlement of 42 villages with a population of nearly 10 thousand people. But this resettlement process & forcing them to switch to agriculture as an occupation wouldn't last. It infringes upon their basic rights of land, livelihood & habitat as well threatens the unique biodiversity of the region.
Even though there are acts like PESA, FRA, Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation act to protect Tribal Interests, yet huge concerns remain about the survivability of the trials in a new environment & their exploitation.
At a time when the world is looking at the environmental implications of big irrigation projects & dams, reviving the Bodhghat Project, which was earlier rejected due to the severe environmental & social implications it posed, without taking into consideration the voice of the tribe & the environmentalists is a little questionable.
The Chhattisgarh government needs to assess again the impact the proposed project will have in the present & as well as the future. Also, a proper discussion forum with representation from all the stakeholders - the locals, tribals, govt & environmentalists need to be set up to find solutions for growth & development that do not harm any fragile ecosystem.

 

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