Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, who began a two-day visit to Chhattisgarh on Monday to meet villagers affected by coal mining, power projects and wild elephants menace, told tribals that his party stands with the poor.
Addressing people in Korba, Rahul slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for making tall promises but doing nothing for the tribal people.
“Modi ji talks of development, makes tall promises. But what will happen to the adivasi and their kids?” asked Rahul.
“Modi ji says a coal mine is needed here but tell me what do people here need? What do adivasis here need?” the Congress leader asked, and added, “If a mine comes up here, adivasis will lose their jungle. Is this development?”
He sought to remind the tribals that their voices were not being heard at the Centre.
“Your voice does not reach Delhi, even media ignores (you),” said Rahul.
“Near Delhi, in Noida they took away land belonging to farmers and built a racing track there. The farmers there are in tears. And they call that development,” Rahul said.
He warned tribals against land being taken away from them for mining and said, “These forests belong to you. If these forests are lost, you will have nothing.”
He tried to reassure the tribals that the Congress party was standing with them.
“We are with you. Congress wants development, but one where there is consideration for people, water, nature, land, tribals and everyone else,” he said.
Tomorrow, Rahul will take out a foot march along with farmers, party leaders and workers from Saradih village to Dabhra in Janjgir-Champa district covering a distance of around 10 kilometres, party leaders said.
The state government has been constructing seven barrages on Mahanadi river there, including the barrages at Saradih, Biraoni, Kalma and Basantpur villages, to supply water to over 40 power plants proposed to come up in the predominantly agricultural district, they said.
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, the added.
The Congress vice president will address a public meeting in Dabhra tomorrow afternoon before concluding his tour.