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Sardar Sarovar Dam Oustees issue legal notices to administrators

 

Posted Wednesday July 06, 2016

Displacement, Dam, Sardar Sarovar Project  
 
Mere land acquisition is not rehabilitation. As per the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award, ‘until rehabilitation is complete, no properties can be submerged and the oustees have every right to continue to reside in their original villages, cultivate the lands and the State must compensate them for any illegal submergence that occurs before complete lawful rehabilitation.  

HNF Correspondent

 
 

The illegal submergence in the densely populated villages of Nimad region in the last week of August has spurred a series of mass actions by the Sardar Sarovar project-affected families – hundreds of poor landless labourers, fish workers, potters, adivasis and other farmers who have not yet been ensured complete rehabilitation with alternative land, house plots, amenities at resettlement sites, alternative livelihood etc. This is a complete violation of the Narmada Tribunal Award and Supreme Court’s Judgements.

After more than 500 families gheraoed the Badwani Collectorate, the oustees in three Tehsils of Dhar District – Manavar, Kukshi and Dharampuri – took out huge rallies and stormed into the offices of the SDM / Tehsildar.

 

The aggrieved families demanded answers for the sudden and illegal release of reservoir waters from the upstream dams that led to inhuman submergence of their farms with standing crop, houses, household items, fodder, food grains, fishing nets etc. They also questioned the virtual lack of relief services and disaster preparedness of the administration and challenged the fake claims of rehabilitation by the Narmada Valley Development Authority.

On 2nd September, at Manavar Tehsil the SDM and Naib Tehsildar had to face a volley of questions from hundreds of women and men villagers of Ekalwara, Semalda, Gangli, Kavthi, Perkhad etc. It was only when the Naib Tehsildar finally agreed that Panchanamas would be recorded that the oustees returned while warning the authorities to intensify the struggle if action doesn’t follow the promises.

On 4th September, at Kukshi, almost 800 oustees, largely women, from the villages of Chikalda, Nisarpur, Karondia, Kothada, Koteshwar, Gehelgaon, Khaparkheda, Bajrikheda, Malwadi, Bodhwada etc. grilled the SDM, Tehsildar and R&R Officer for almost 5 hours and exposed the rampant corruption in the R&R process. As arguments became heated, Mukam Singh Kirade, the MLA, also arrived at the spot and spoke to the Collector. After this, the SDM assured that video-recording of the affected houses and properties would be the done and administration would consider the process of recording Panchanamas. The SDM also announced to give 50 kgs of food grains immediately to all the affected families.

On 6th September, at Dharampuri, almost 500 women and men marched through the main streets and reached the office of the Tehsildar, where the Asst. R&R Officer was also called. The administration, once again, had to face the wrath of the women, who said that their kitchen fires had not been lit since 23rd August and the Government, which has been making hollow claims of rehabilitation, did not even care to visit the villages when water was released in the midnight!

In response to the illegal position taken by officials that Panchanamas cannot be recorded since all the properties (lands and houses) in question have been ‘acquired’, the oustees shot back saying that, “Mere land acquisition is not rehabilitation. As per the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award, ‘until rehabilitation is complete, no properties can be submerged and the oustees have every right to continue to reside in their original villages, cultivate the lands and the State must compensate them for any illegal submergence that occurs before complete lawful rehabilitation’.

The oustees issued Legal Notice to the SDM, Tehsildar and R&R Officer at all the three Tehsils and, also, to the Collector of Dhar District to immediately ensure that the Panchanamas of all losses/ impacts are duly recorded as per the Revenue Book Circular (RBC) Rules and the oustees are duly compensated. The oustees have issued an ultimatum to the authorities that if their demands are not met soon, the struggle would be intensified and cases would be instituted against the officials in Courts.

The series of actions by families affected by the Sardar Sarovar Project have once again brought to fore the plight of people who lose everything for such development projects but, in return, get nothing beyond some false promises.

[Based on a release from NAPM (National Alliance of People's Movements)]

 
 

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