April 26, 2015 3:21:42 am
With tension over Sonbhadra’s Kanhar Irrigation Project having subsided and construction work now in full swing, the district administration’s focus has shifted to the list of more than a dozen demands that the villagers put forth at a recent meeting in Sundari village on Monday earlier this week.
With both parties in agreement over the demands for compensation and the need for rehabilitation of those affected, it is the measures the administration will have to adopt to achieve those that has cast a concern on the thaw achieved after the week-long struggle.
Sits in the villagers’ list presented before the administration is the demand that the residents be rehabilitated at another site “as one village”.This, for the administration, creates an issue.
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“Under the rules, a gram sabha land cannot be taken away and given to another gram sabha. Rehabilitating residents of each village together at a single place is something that can be dealt with only at the top state administration level. But we will prepare a proposal and send it to the top level for further action,” Sub-Divisional Magistrate (Duddhi), Girija Shanker Singh said.
“Plus, there is the issue of those who have illegally settled on forest or gram sabha land. We will have to examine what can be done to help them as they are legally not entitled to any compensation,” he added.
As per government records, there are at least 11 villages that would get submerged once the Kanhar Dam is constructed. Some of these villages are: Sundari, Bhisur, Korchi, Lami, Kudri and Badkhora. Sundari, Bhisur and Korchi witnessed the maximum resistance while the opposition in other eight villages was comparatively less, said Singh.
But after the recent meeting, which also paved way for the resumption of the construction work, officials claim the villagers are “cooperating” with the project, with the administration looking out for anyone who might not be in agreement owing to them being left out of the compensation process.
“A fresh survey to include those who have been left out in earlier lists for compensation has been started. There is cooperation from the villagers as they are now enthusiastically coming forward and getting the lists updated. The compensation they are getting is unprecedented as three generations within a family were being compensated,” Singh said.
The SDM explained that under the previous rules, the compensation amount would have been very less. “But under the new rules (2013), the amount can be over Rs 7 lakh per person. If three generations are taken together, it can go up to Rs 21 lakh.”
Arguing the demands on the villagers’ behalf, but seemingly left on their own now, are the activists who point out the administration’s “fear tactics” that has forced the villagers into towing its line. While claiming that the administration has adopted the 2013 rules only “partially” even as it significantly sidestepped from considering other clauses, the activists alleged that the administration is simultaneously offering help on one end and deploying heavy police force to deter them from taking the fight up again.
“Since December 2014, we have been using peaceful methods and taking legal recourse. In between, however, some activists from outside joined the protest and the entire thing turned confrontational. The villagers got swayed by emotions and the show-down with the police followed. Now, the police are using arrests and raids to keep the activists demoralised. That is why people have accepted the offers from the administration. They do not have much resource to fight,” said Maheshanand of Kanhar Bachao Andolan.
Sonbhadra Superintendent of Police Shiv Shankar Yadav said: “So far, six people who indulged in violence have been arrested. Two of them, Gambhira Prasad and Pankaj Kumar Gautam, were leaders of the agitation. All the accused will be identified and arrested and charge-sheets will be filed.”
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