Batti Gul: Builders are eyeing tribal land in the city, says minister for tribal development

May 16, 2018, 12:17 IST | Rahul Mahajani

In the last part of the series, mid-day speaks to Minister for Tribal Development Vishnu Savara to find out why tribals have been left in the dark and what will be done to improve their situation

Navshyacha Pada at Bombay Veterinary College, Goregaon
Navshyacha Pada at Bombay Veterinary College, Goregaon

After highlighting the pitiable conditions in which tribals in Gorai, Sanjay Gandhi National Park and Aarey Milk Colony have been staying, in the concluding part of the series, mid-day spoke to Vishnu Savara, minister for tribal development. Savara has said manipulation by builders, who have their eye on tribal land in the city, among other issues, have left Mumbai's tribals struggling without basic facilities.

What have we done for the development of tribal padas in Mumbai?
We have taken many meetings [with residents] of all the padas along with government departments, BMC officials and others. There are a lot of problems, including the fact that builders have an eye on tribal land and want to take over it. Our efforts are to ensure that tribals in the city get justice. There are 25-odd padas in the city, all in the same condition, lacking basic amenities - water, road and electricity - and we are trying to give them that. There are some administrative problems of local bodies, which we are trying to solve.

Also read: Batti Gul: Tribal families in SGNP continue to live in darkness as authorities plan to oust them

Tribals at Jamdar Pada in Gorai, Borivli. Pic/Satej Shinde
Tribals at Jamdar Pada in Gorai, Borivli. Pic/Satej Shinde

What are the main issues these tribals face?
These people have been living here for years, but there are land issues. There is a need to go into the details to solve their problems.

Tribals in Gorai, SGNP and Aarey don't have electricity. Why?
In a nutshell, because they are poor, which makes them easy target. Sometimes, builders manipulate them, while other times, they don't get co-operation from government officials, like police and others, which is unfortunate.

So what are we doing for solving the electricity problem?
In rural areas, we usually tie up with MSEB and pay it for infrastructure - putting up poles and substations. But in Mumbai, an NOC (No-Objection Certificate) is needed to do this, which we don't get in time...

Vishnu Savara, minister for tribal development
Vishnu Savara, minister for tribal development

What's the solution to that then?
I will be calling a meeting of all stakeholders, including BMC and other local bodies, with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis very soon. If the CM gives an order, I believe a proper solution will emerge.

Tribals in SGNP say they used to farm in the park but now could be relocated. Why?
It's a technical issue; there are some laws governing SGNP. But we will discuss this in the meeting with the CM and try to find a solution.

What are we doing to get the tribal children educated?
Our department has started several schools to ensure these children get a proper education.

What more has the government done?
Our department has started a drive to give them caste certificates, as many of them did not have proofs. We are also trying to set up helplines, so that these people can call for help in dire situations.

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Also Read: Batti Gul: Villagers live without water, electricity 100 meters away from Goregaon college

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