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Forest rights of tribals: Rahul attacks Centre, Chhattisgarh govt

Rahul Gandhi at a rally

Korba (Chhattisgarh):  Pitching for forest rights of tribals, Rahul Gandhi today attacked the Centre and the BJP government in Chhattisgarh, accusing both of working “just for two-three industrialists” and not passing on the benefits of development to locals.

Raking up the issue of land acquisition in the mining belt of Korba, he questioned the development model of Prime Minister Narendra Modi alleging that tribals do not stand to benefit from it and sought to corner the ruling BJP over issues like displacement due to coal mining and compensation against land acquisition.

The Congress Vice President promised the tribals that he will stand by them as he stood by farmers and also took a dig at the national media for not giving importance to tribal issues.

“Modiji gives many lectures on development. Development should happen but my question is that what partake do tribals have in that process…development should be for all. It should not happen for just two-three industrialists.

“It should not be a scene that their industries come up, they make thousands of crores in profit and on the other hand the tribal children have no future… We do not want such a future for tribals of India,” Gandhi said.

Repeatedly attacking Modi and BJP, he alleged, “Be it the government running in Delhi or in Chhattisgarh, the entire government machinery is running for the promotion of two-three industrialists.”

Referring to NDA’s ordinance on land that removed clauses for taking consent of farmers and carrying out social audit before acquiring land and modified the provision to return acquired land if it was not utilised within five years, Gandhi said sarcastically, “Modiji said that development is needed. So there is no need to ask anybody.”

Targeting the Prime Minister on the land issue, Gandhi said, in remarks laced with sarcasm, “It does not matter if land    was not used within five years for the purpose for which it was required. Once land is taken, it is taken. Leave social audit. What does social audit mean?

Invoking the rights of ‘jal, jangal and Jjameen (water, forest and land) of the inhabitants in the tribal state, the Congress leader said that tribals lose their lifeline forest when the land is acquired for mining purposes and hence they must be made shareholders in development.

Rahul kicked off his two-day tour of Chhattisgarh from Kudmura village in Korba district, located around 300 kms from state capital Raipur, where he met villagers affected by the wild elephants menace in the region. He also met forest dwellers and villagers bearing the brunt of coal mining in Hasdeo-Arand coalfields.

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