Mumbai: Over 1,000 tribals of Aarey Milk Colony in the western suburbs protested on Tuesday over the issue of the adivasi community being shifted as part of the slum rehabilitation scheme. The tribals have decided not to give away their land and have denied from shifting to any place given by the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA).
The state government wants these tribal communities residing in 27 padas at Aarey Colony to shift as they need the land to construct the extension of Byculla zoo. But members of the tribal communities fear they will lose their livelihood and occupation if they shift under this scheme. Currently, there are over 10,000 tribals residing at these padas for generations. Also, each member owns approximately two to three acres of land whereas in the SRA scheme all the members will be adjusted in 33 acres of land.
Nalini, a member of the tribal community, said, “The matter is not just about shifting to a developed area but it is about losing our livelihood. We will not able to carry out our occupation like farming, cultivation of crops and animal grazing once we are shifted to these SRA buildings because we will not have any land for the same. We understand the development idea but what about our age-old occupation?” Members of the tribal community were not involved in any of the development plans.
Prakash Bhoir, a resident of Keltipada, said, “We opposed the officials who came to conduct the survey and we did not allow them to do any work. We have been living here since ages and nobody has any right to suddenly take away our home without even informing us.” The state government had discussed the developmental plan in September 2015 where it said that the adivasi communities in the city would be involved in any development plan and would also be provided with the basic amenities. Vivek Pandit, founder of Shramajeevi Sanghatana, said, “First, the state government should include the tribal communities in any developmental plan. Second, they should be provided with the basic facilities of water and electric supply.”
The tribals said their fight is against the state government and they will take this matter to the chief minister of Maharashtra. They submitted a letter mentioning all their demands and problems to the chief executive officer of Aarey Milk Colony.