Rahul Gandhi Holds Padyatra with farmers

Updated: 00:00 GMT, Jan 1, 1970 | Published: 10:24 GMT, Jun 16, 2015 |

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi has begun a padyatra or foot-march for tribals from Saradih village in Chhattisgarh’s Janjgir-Champa district, where the state government is building seven barrages on Mahanadi. Mr Gandhi, 44, will walk till Dabhra, covering a distance of about 10 kilometres. Marching along with him are farmers, party leaders and workers. Mr Gandhi will address a public meeting in Dabhra before concluding his two-day visit to Chhattisgarh.

The state government has been constructing seven barrages on Mahanadi River in Janjgir-Champa and Korba districts of north Chhattisgarh, to supply water to over 40 power plants proposed to come up in the predominantly agricultural district. As many as 10 villages are falling in the submergence area of these barrages, but so far local administration has neither informed villagers about it nor taken any step for their settlement, alleged Congress state unit’s general secretary Shailesh Nitin Trivedi.

Yesterday, on the first day of his visit to the state, Mr Gandhi tried to strike a chord in the heartland of tribal Chhattisgarh, where land acquisition is a burning issue. He spoke at length with forest dwellers who are bound to lose their land to at least a dozen coal mining projects and 30 new power plants coming up in the catchment areas of Hansdeo Bango dam. “If you want to take over land from tribals, you have to seek their permission first. You can’t snatch it without them agreeing to it,” he told the people assembled from nearly 20 villages in tribal-dominated Korba. Mr Gandhi’s party, the Congress, has been consistently opposing the amended land acquisition bill in Parliament, managing tostall it in Rajya Sabha. 

Around 20 villages in Korba and Janjgir-Champa districts, where coal plants and power projects are coming up, have already passed a resolution rejecting the government’s acquisition move. Activists say over 15,000 villagers would be displaced by these projects without any compensation.