It was 9th of August, 2015. When the UN observed world day of Indigenous peoples, and India celebrated the call of Gandhiji to Quit India, the beach of Dahanu witnessed the call "Quit Destructive Development"
Kaluram Dhodade of the Bhoomi Sema ( Video of his speech and demands of AEP ) led the rally speaking against the move to de-notify the Green Zone Notification and decried the tactics of the establishment to twart the efforts of the Dahanu Development Authority appointed by the Courts, by denying it basic funds and admin support. There is a strong lobby who want to free land in this area for "development" as there is not lots of quick money to be made.
The other demand is to thwart the backdoor entry of the Dahanu Port, something which Nargis Irani has fought for over forty years. In her emotional appeal, she pass on the baton of the struggle to the Adivasis, who accept the torch with loud cheers. Thus, what was upto now considered a middle class issue - "Save Dahanu", and by many analyst as a movement of the big farmers, became the mobilsation slogan of the tribals under the Adivasi Ekta Parishad ( Video of Nargis' emotional plea to the adivasis to take over the struggle)
The most passionate speech however came from seasoned campaigner, former judge Kolse-Patil, ( Video of speech )who said that the current development model is not acceptable, and urged those who were leading sustainable lives to struggle to retain their space.He decried the false aspirational agenda and lure of modern development, saying that no jobs or livelihood has come to way the adivasi in the haired brained schemes like expressways, industrial corridors, big industrialisation.
Adivasis cheered and whistled as they emotionally related to the depiction of the basics of adivasis life, even though many were perhaps seeing themselves absorbed in modern "aspiration". ( video of dance-play by adivasi youth )
Long time activist Michelle who now runs a school in Adivasi Sagave, feels that misinterpretation of the Dahanu notification by the bureaucrats is leading to discontent amongst the locals who feel that they are unable to conduct small and simple activities and business. A clarity on the interpretation of the Notification is urgently required. Meanwhile the rally and the Bhoomi Sena opposition to any move to denotify Dahanu as an eco-sensitive area, comes at a right time to correct the impression that Dahanu is opposed to the notification.
Perhaps a new positive programme of alternative development needs to be designed and specifically encouraged under the notification. On the eve of the SDG summit and in preparation for the crucial climate change COP in Paris, perhaps Dahanu will be able to demonstrate the pathway to a low carbon, eco-friendly alternative.