Politics

Gujarat: Bill to Promote Tourism at Statue of Unity Passed; Jignesh Mevani Suspended

Mevani argued that the Bill would be an instrument to grab tribal land near the statue in the name of developing the area for tourism.

New Delhi: Independent MLA in the Gujarat assembly, Jignesh Mevani, was suspended for the house’s winter session December 10.

Mevani who is the representative of the Vadgam constituency, had burnt a copy of the Statue of Unity Area Development and Tourism Governance Bill, 2019 outside the assembly complex on December 10. He argued that it was ‘anti-tribal”.

His argument against the BJP government in the state has been that it would be an instrument to grab tribal land near the statue in the name of developing the area for tourism.

Mevani reportedly said, “Under the pretext of the Statue of Unity, which has been built at Kevadiya against the wishes of tribal communities living around it, the government plans to snatch land and displace tribal people from 70 more villages there.”

“I call upon 40 MLAs from tribal and Dalit communities in the state assembly to come together and oppose the Bill,” he said.

The firebrand MLA was suspended from the house for “indiscipline” and “disrespecting” the chair after he didn’t listen to the speaker and told the house that they all believe in Manusmriti and not the Constitution.

The Bill was passed on December 11, even as the opposition Congress staged a walk-out. The Congress too argued that the Bill was anti-tribal. The house’s session also ended on the same day.

The Statue of Unity in the state’s Narmada district was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in October 2018. The 182-metre high statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel is said to be the world’s tallest.

As per the state government, it attracted over 29 lakh tourists since its inauguration and revenue of Rs. 82.51 crore was earned from it. Citing these statistics, the state’s forest minister Ganpat Vasava said, the Bill was brought as the government felt that “there was imminent need for developing the area”. The statue’s construction reportedly cost close to Rs 3,000 crore.