Mumbai: In a recent development, the Adivasi tribal families living in the Aarey colony have opposed rehabilitation against the development of land belonging to the Force One (specialized counter-terrorism unit of the Mumbai Police). The government of Maharashtra after the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attack had reserved nearly 100 acres of land for Force One adjacent to the State Reserve Police Force-land (SRFP) surrounded by the Adivasi people.
Vithal Lad, a prominent face fighting for the tribal community across the state and founder President of the Maharashtra Adivasi Manch has alleged that the sudden declaration of rehabilitation of these Aarey colony Adivasi houses on 5 acres of land parcel is nothing but a backdoor entry of builders' lobby. "For the past 10 years, the Adivasi families living in Padas at Unit 17 (Chafecha Pada) and Unit 18 KLT Pada and Damu Pada were having no issues with the Force One or their activities. Suddenly why the issue has is being made that they should be shifted on 5 acres of land parcel? We oppose this as it will destroy the livelihood of these people completely."
"Though the land as per the Mumbai Development Plan (DP) is reserved for Force One, however, the land is of tribal people who have been living here from our ancestral times. They are the real owners of this land however, with lack of education and no support the community was never able to get that on record," he asserted.
Reportedly, the government has decided to shift these Aadivasi Padas since the Force One "Fire Range" cannot be developed following their presence. However, Lad claimed, "The area is very near to Jogeshwari Vikroli Link Road. If the fire rang is developed over here will the nearby residents staying in the highrise building will allow it? For the development of the city every time, the tribal people's livelihood is sacrificed. It is high time that government should understand and protect the tribal people's rights."
As per previous news reports, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray this month had approved the plan to shift the Adivasis on five acres of the Force One land comprising a total of 100 acres. The non-Adivasi residents will be provided houses under Project Affected Persons (PAPs) by the Slum Rehabilitation Authority(SRA). While the Maharashtra Housing Area Development Authority (MHADA) will build the houses for the tribals.
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