The BJP-ruled government made inroads into the Congress vote-bank in the tribal areas of South Gujarat region. As many as 15,000 tribals were given land ownership documents (under Forest Rights Act 2006) by chief minister Narendra Modi at a programme on Monday.
Ownership rights to 95,026 acres of forest land in Surat, Navsari, Tapi, Dangs and Valsad districts were given to tribals at an Adivasi Adhikar and Shashaktikaran programme at Vansda town in Navsari district. Total value of the land allotted to tribals was Rs1,425 crore. Besides, 715 beneficiaries were given chesques by the forest department at the event.
Speaking on the occasion, the CM said ownership rights of 61,974 tribals of 6.41 lakh acres of forest land have been accepted by the state government. Out of the 6.41 lakh acre, 1.14 lakh acre were claimed by a single person.
“Tribals have been fighting to get ownership rights of forest land for years. The state government collected proof through the latest technology and ordered reassessment of the rejected applications. The state government gave a nod to the 22,000 applications that were rejected,” said Modi.
Referring to the extension of Rs40,000-crore Van-Bandhu Yojana for next five years, the chief minister said a part of the amount would be utilised to dig 700 ponds from Umbergaon to Ambaji.
Efforts were also being made to provide 24 hours of electricity in tribal areas, which would be the first-of-its-kind initiative in the entire country.
Through the Vansda programme, BJP aimed at making a dent in the traditional vote-bank of the Congress. Till now, Congress leaders had bene attacking the state government for not accepting applications under the forest rights act.
With Monday’s programme, the government and the BJP succeeded in sending a message to tribals that they, too, were equally concerned about them. Political pundits said the move could benefit the party in Dangs-Valsad, Navsari and Bardoli Lok Sabha seats in the election next year.