The Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL), on Monday, issued a statement on the ongoing controversy over land acquisition in six villages surrounding the Statue of Unity (SoU) in Kevadia colony of Narmada district. Village tribals have called for a bandh and been on protest for over a week. SSNNL, in its statement, has made public the compensation package it had put forth before the Gujarat High Court (HC) in February, in reply to a PIL filed against the acquisition.
Apart from announcing a relocation plan for the displaced families, SSNNL has agreed to allot commercial shops in a complex of the SoU parking lot to those affected, in compensation for shops and stalls razed from these six villages. The announcement comes days after villagers got into a scuffle with the local police, that was accompanying SSNNL officials to fence the land which SSNNL “has acquired”. The statement on Monday said, “SSNNL is only fencing the land that it has measured as part of its acquisition claim. No other private land has been forcefully fenced or acquired.”
The contention of the villagers of Limbdi, Kevadia, Vagadiya, Navagam, Kothi and Gora is that SSNNL had sought the land acquisition 60 years ago for the building of the Sardar Sarovar dam. However, it is now intending to put the land to use for other commercial purposes, which is why the SSNNL claim on the land should be invalidated.
On May 30, 18 Congress leaders, including eight Gujarat MLAs, were detained in district headquarters Rajpipla on their way to join the Kevadia protest.
In its statement, SSNNL said that a settlement for beneficiaries from six villages would be relocated to an ‘Adarsh Vasahat’ project to be constructed over 16 hectares of land belonging to SSNNL in Gora village, across Narmada river downstream from SoU. The SSNNL in its statement said, “We will also construct concrete roads, ensure a network of tap water connections in all homes, drainage lines, aanganwadis, primary health centres, toilets in all homes as well as primary schools at an expenditure of Rs 15 crore.”
As per the guidelines of the Narmada Control Authority (NCA), all male heirs of a family displaced due to the project, who are 18 years of age as of November 1 1989, are to be given a plot of 1,000 square feet and a 250 square feet plot for animal husbandry. SSNNL estimates 1,000 such beneficiaries in the ongoing issue. It has also extended financial help to build houses amounting to Rs 4 lakh per beneficiary, of which 1.5 lakh to be given by the state government and Rs 2.5 lakh by SSNNL.
Additionally, SSNNL said it is willing to accommodate the demands of some beneficiaries who accepted the compensation offered by the government in 1992, but later expressed displeasure and keenness to opt for the revised package of 2013. “We will allow such 61 beneficiaries and 82 major sons of these beneficiaries to give up their earlier compensation and choose the new package,” it stated.
The official release said that the package had been “arrived upon after consensus” of high ranking officials of SSNNL as well as members of the six villages, who met in February to arrive at a settlement in the matter.
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