Inspector RN Rathva of Rajpipla police station said the eight MLAs and 20 others were detained soon after they left the collectorate here to reach Kevadiya to protest fencing work around six villages near the Statue of Unity.
The affected villages around the Statue of Unity, the world''s largest such structure at 182 metres, are Navagam, Waghariya, Limdi, Kothi, Gora and Kevadiya.
Congress MLAs Anil Joshiyara, PD Vasava, Chandrikaben Baria, Punabhai Gamit and others as well as local leaders were opposing fencing work being carried out by the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL), which claims the land had been acquired in the 1960s.
In a memorandum to the Narmada collector, the MLAs questioned the government''s move to put up fencing around the land, which had sparked protests from the locals, and asked if written permission was taken to carry out such works during the coronavirus-induced lockdown.
"We request the government to let the land stay with the villagers for now and carry out acquisition only under Land Acquisition Act after resolving the matter by taking locals into into confidence. The district administration and police should stop treating locals inhumanely and subjecting them to atrocity," they said.
BJP Bharuch Lok Sabha MP and tribal leader Mansukh Vasava also wrote to Chief Minister Vijay Rupani seeking his mediation for a "permanent solution" to the issue which has seen protests for the past 10 days, and demanded suspension of fencing work.
However, state Home Minister Pradipsinh Jadeja, in a statement, said the Congress was "misleading tribals" over the issue, and instigating them for its political end.
He said fencing work done there was as per permission granted by the Gujarat High Court which recently lifted its stay on acquisition process.
"SSNNL is committed to offer package to the villagers for their land in accordance with what has been presented before the Gujarat High Court. They will be given the package after the situation normalises following the lockdown. We will try to relocate the tribals in their native place. Tourism from Statue of Unity will create employment opportunity for locals," Jadeja said in the release.
The BJP government in Gujarat had started constructing the barbed fence and acquiring the disputed land over a week back after getting permission from Gujarat High Court, which had earlier stayed the process over a PIL challenging the government''s stake on the land.
The public interest litigation, filed by an NGO, claimed the land was acquired by the SSNNL in 1960s for the Narmada dam project, but was never used, and hence the tribals continued to own it.
The government needed to acquire the land afresh under the Land Acquisition Act, 2013, as original acquisition lapsed after the tribals continued to use the land for the last 58 years, the PIL had said. PTI COR KA PD BNM BNM
Disclaimer :- This story has not been edited by Outlook staff and is auto-generated from news agency feeds. Source: PTI