Determined to continue the satyagraha until the substantive questions on the right to rehabilitation and ownership rights as per the new Land Acquisition Act are addressed by the authorities, hundreds of tribals, farmers, farm labourers and fish workers continued their strong opposition to the Govt’s decision to raise the dam height by 17 mts. as the Jeevan Adhikar Satyagraha of the Sardar Sarovar oustees entered the 17th day, hundreds of tribals, farmers, farm labourers and fish workers continued their strong opposition to the Govt’s decision to raise the dam height by 17 mts.
Thousands of oustees living in thickly populated villages in the Tehsils of Badwani, Kukshi, Manavar, Alirajpur, Maheshwar, Thikri, Dharampuri etc. are determined to continue the satyagraha until the substantive questions on the right to rehabilitation and ownership rights as per the new Land Acquisition Act are addressed by the authorities.
Hundreds of women and men gheraoed the Badwani office of the Narmada Valley Development Authority today and threw up a volley of questions. Shri V.S. Guha, Rehabilitation Officer, Badwani and Shri Bhamoriya, Sub-Engineer were held up for more than 3 hours and grilled as to why did the officials of Badwani provide false data of “complete rehabilitation” to the senior officials at Indore, Bhopal and Delhi, when thousands of oustees are yet to be given land, house plots, alternate livelihoods and other R&R benefits.
Few days back prominent social activist Medha Patkar who is associated with protests had said the Sardar Sarovar is one of the worst symbols of political conspiracy and corporate loot and we will intensify the 30-year long struggle to ensure justice to the lakhs of people and environment of the valley and also to assert our development paradigm, based on justice and equity.
The poor farm labourer women from Dhanora questioned the criteria adopted by the R&R officers for determination of entitlement for allotment of R&R benefits. They charged the NVDA officers of irregularities when the eligible, poor, widow, tribal-dalit women have been deprived of house plots while well-off persons not living in the submergence area have been given plots on prime lands. It was also pointed that there is massive corruption at the R&R sites – while the Borlai R&R site built for oustees of Dhanora has a board displaying 10 tree-platforms, not one is present in reality.
Saava, Dwarki and other fisher women of Pichhodi village questioned NVDA as to why is it not complying with the Order of the Grievance Redressal Authority, which clearly directed NVDA to register the co-operatives of the Pichhodi fish workers. Exposing the fraud and injustice due to the “revised back water levels”, oustees said that when in 2012-13, due to less rain, the submergence was severe, the impacts would be much, much greater after the construction of the dam.
The Rehabilitation Officer, accepted that even as on date, oustees are residing in every village affected by SSP, in the Badwani district who have a large numbers of grievances, not yet redressed. Mr. Guha also that admitted that many persons who are not eligible have been given R&R benefits which is under inquiry by the Jst. Jha Commission, but the oustees who are eligible have been denied their dues. As the officials hung their heads in silence and shame, the official admission of gross violations was more than evident.
Deepak Arya, SDM, Badwani and Mr. Baghel, Additional SP, reached the Satyagraha sthal today. Oustees challenged the inhumanity inflicted by NVDA as it slaughters living communities and indulges in crores of corruption in the name of “disaster relief”. On the other hand, there is as such no “disaster preparedness”. People also demanded the SDM to ensure that that the land records be changed as per the New Land Acquisition Act and their rights be acknowledged.
The MLA of Badwani, Ramesh Patel and MLA of Kukshi, Honey Baghel visited the satyagraha and expressed solidarity. Mr. Baghel stated that the oustees should stay put in the villages and refuse to move until all their rights are guaranteed. Numerous youth activists from the Jai Adivasi Yuva Sangathan and Adivasi Chhtra Sangathan also expressed support for the satyagraha.