This article is part of a special Scroll reporting project: Gujarat’s ‘dhandho’ elections, exploring the state’s complex relationship between business and politics as it heads into elections.
To contribute to our reportage, click here.
In the winter of 2018, when the Statue of Unity – the tallest statue in the world – was thrown open to the public, Narendra Tadvi sensed an opportunity. A cotton farmer, he lives in Vasantpura, a village on the west bank of the Narmada river, a few kilometres from the statue.
“We had heard that the authorities would help us develop homestays in the villages,” he said. “So we thought maybe we will get some benefit from the tourists.”
Narendra Tadvi submitted a proposal for a small guesthouse to the Statue of Unity Area Development and Tourism Governance Authority that administers the statue and 21 villages in the vicinity, located in Gujarat’s Adivasi-dominated Narmada district.
But his plan was rejected, leaving him bitter. “You tell me how many Adivasi people have been allowed to make homestays,” he said. “We are deemed fit only to clean the dirt on the streets.”
Not living up to expectations
When Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the 182 metre-high statue of Sardar Vallabhai Patel, he had said “tourism activities would change the lives…