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Trauma, Tears and Teligiri: Life just before Displacement

"Nobody other than the displaced can feel how painful and sorrowful is displacement. Tragedy of the post-displacement life is visible, but the pain and suffering prior to displacement is heart breaking although invisible. It’s as good as experiencing a death before it really comes as life passes with tensions and lots of fearful apprehensions."

Bibhuti Bhusan Pati : July 19, 2008

The river Teligiri flows in the villages like Raniguda, Vidhaniguda,Pradhaniguda Katagaon,Bagharaguda, Bisipani, Talamangara, Kakra,Bajiput, Kandharguda Malguda and Kedar etc of Koraput district. Once open a time Teligiri was bliss but now in the so-called development process Teligiri is curse for the local inhabitants of Koraput. A dam project is to be constructed over the Teligiri River. Hundreds of people from two Gram Panchayats are afraid of being displaced forcefully. Nobody other than the displaced can feel how painful and sorrowful is displacement. Tragedy of the post-displacement life is visible, but the pain and suffering prior to displacement is heart breaking although invisible. It’s as good as experiencing a death before it really comes as life passes with tensions and lots of fearful apprehensions. This report is an outcome of two days’ experience with the people awaiting displacement for Teligiri project.

Tilai Jani the Sarpancha of Kedar Gram Panchayat said, “For Teligiri project more than 2000 people will be displaced from my Gram Panchayat as per Govt’s list. Since 20 years back we have heard about the project. The Govt. Notification was made in 2003, from that day all the developmental work in this area has been stopped. The young and middle age men and women are migrated outside as daily worker. The old are left in the villages to fight with death. Many old people of the area became bed ridden out of severe frustration. Kamala Lochan Muduli (68) years is mentally retired because of the future settlement after displacement and the marriage of his four daughters. Another seven such cases are Mukti Muduli, Sanai Muduli, Sashi Muduli  is above 58 years old and helpless. In this matter the problems of the area, like Ranigada, Vidhaniguda, Pradhaniguda, Katagaon, Harijan Sahi, Bagharaguda from the constituency of the then irrigation Minister Sri Ravi Nanda may be taken as an example.  Tilak Jani also magnifies the condition of Subrnaa Pradhan, how she has been diseased due to the fear of displacement.

According to the district administration, for the first grade land Rs.30,000/- and for the second grade land Rs.  12,000/- have already had been available to the displaced people of Teligiri.  But in this matter, the opinion of Madhu Muduli, Lachhu Muduli, Paresh Muduli etc. from Bisipani , Talamuga and Dakra village in Kedar Gram Panchayat is quite important.  It also implies how diplomatic the Government in its functioning is. According to the villagers, “It is true that they have got the money, but the amount is not beyond confusion? All the loans since the day of our fore fathers had taken; it was deducted from this compensation money as calculated by compound interest. When we went for enquired, the officials replied that though some loan is out-standing in your family’s name, only this much amount you will eligible to get. Some villagers have got only Rs. 3000/- in exchange of theirs acres of domestic agriculture land.  Till now no compensation is disbursed for the trees.”

But it is a matter of great concern that now the middlemen have become very active to cheat the poor tribal people. As per one school teacher, “These tribal people have urgently in need of home street land.  These middlemen are cheating these poor needy tribals by promising land on payment of advance money. A few days back Narendra and Paresh went to the Cheptam haat (weekly market) to purchase land as per the prior discussion of the middle man, but in between on the road, Rs. 25,000/- from Narendra Muduli and Rs. 10,000/- from Paresh Muduli have been snatched away by putting chilly powder in their eyes. In this way many villagers have lost approximately Rs. 2,00,000/-for a home street land by this touts. While asked about this to the S.P. Koraput, “He told no such FIR has been received.  So he is undone to take any action for this type of work.” How the illiterate tribals can write a Fir? As per the villagers statement, “ When we went to the police station to write a FIR, the police personals told in the police station, ‘Now we have no time, come next day’. Babu, (sir) do you know to write the FIR we have paid Rs.50 and to come to police station we have walked 20 to 30 Kilo Miters. Even if we have spent whole day in police station verandah no body has time to listen our problem.”

After loosing everything they are only lying looking to the sky. The whole problem is, the price of the land is much higher than the money available. That means while the market price of the first grade land per acre is Rs. 70,000/- but they are getting less than Rs.30,000/-. The real problem is not finish here. On the other hand when the demands for the land rise similarly price of the land is very high. The price of the land is expected to go high in future, so the land owner is not ready to sell the land now in the present market price,  hence no land is available.

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Some of the villagers of Bidhaniguda, Pradhaniguda, Katagaona etc. are yet  to be displaced from the constituency of the then irrigation Minister Ravi Nanda. Their feeble condition is disgraceful. While enquiring whether they have communicated the matter to the Mr. Nanda, The villagers told, “At the time of election, he came and promised us that he will fight to stop the Teligiri project if he wins in the election. But he is not seen once after the election.  In order to get the old age pension and BPL card, we had gone to Jaypore not less than 10 time to meet him, but could not get him. Rather than Koraput MLA Valu Bhaina (Tara Prasad Bahinipati) sometimes visits us and enquires about is.  He is the only man with us to fight against Teligiri project”.  

How the so called development project have made the life so miserable and live with lost everything  it came to my notice when I saw the life of Sita Dora (33)  in Raniguda village. She has displaced four times from her childhood to till now and ready to face another displacement for the Teligiri project. Sita Dora was born in Badegaon village of Sunabeda . When she was 4 years old HAL project came to her village and they were  displaced to Damanjodi. When she was 17 years old, NALCO plant came to Damanjodi and her family shifted to Kolab village. When she was 22 years old, Kolab dam project started and they shifted to Jhanuguda of Koraput and there she married in Raniguda village. When I asked about her feelings and experience, in a quivering eyes Sita told, “ Sir, when I was 4 years old my family shifted from Sunabeda to Damanjodi, I was crying because for my friend Nimu. My family members some how managed to take me from there.  I was in heavy fever for missing my friend.  When I was in Damanjodi I fell in love, but we were displaced again for NALCO and I had to leave my lover because they were displaced to AP and it was not possible to come and meet me every time.  So my family members fixed my marriage when we were in Kolab.  It was not my fate. We were displaced for Kolab Dam project.  Then the groom’s family refused as we had no permanent home due to displacement, the marriage was broken.”  “We have only one feeling and experience that is, to slack everything in our life like, the warmth touch of birth place, affection of childhood friendship, love and affaire of youth, broken settled marriages, home of the fourth night, and the emotional attachment for property in the old age. Nothing is important and permanent for us. We are born to displace. We had lost and left everything behind of our life. Now I am going too displaced for Teligiri. I will leave the memory of  my honeymoon home and the marriage place. What more I will loose in my life? In this area you will get so many Sita Dora,” She added. 

In this context the local MLA Taraprasad Bahini Pati  has put few questions to the Govt. of Orissa. Due to maximum number of Thermal Power Plant and River Dam project in the district thousands of families are displaced. They are not getting a glass of drinking water. Lakhs of agricultural land converted to barren land Maximum number of villages of the State exist without electricity. Not a single displaced person is well settled. They are deprived of everything including education and health facilities Why Teligiri again? Till now the displaced of Koraput have been spending a gipsy life including the helpless old and children. What is the real planning for the Teligiri displaced? Teligiri is cover with full of natural beauties. It’s a very good place for eco-tourism place and Govt. can earn huge amount of foreign currency. Due to Pola Varam Dam project of Andhra Pradesh Govt. of Indra Sagar about 10,000 people from 8 villages of Malkangiri, 17170 acres of agricultural land, 450 acres of reserved forest, 8 primary schools, 2 high school and 2 public health centre hospital will be drowned in water. What steps have taken by the State Govt. on this matter? When the State Govt. severely opposed to Pola Varam  and Mahendra Tanyaa project then, for what interest the State govt. have started Teligiri?



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