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S Kumar’s power project likely to wreak havoc in Jalud village of M-P - [10/04/99] - The Hindustan Times
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Saturday, April 10, 1999, New Delhi


S Kumar’s power project likely to wreak havoc in Jalud village of M-P
Jalud (Khargone), April 9 (Abhilash Khandekar)

THE numerous cracks on the walls of a number of small dwelling houses in this sleepy village on the banks of Narmada river reflect the fear under which the 250-odd families live here.

Jalud is the first village to be the part of history once the S. Kumar's -promoted Rs 1500-crore Maheshwar Hydel Power Corporation Ltd (SKHPCL) dam comes up here.

The trepidation of its imminent submergence has made the poor villagers a restless lot. The round-the-clock exercise of earth moving and blasting at the site of the proposed dam has damaged not only to the kuccha and pucca houses of the small farmers but have also shattered villagers from within.

Savitri Bai, the Schedule Caste sarpanch of Jalud articulated the fears by saying “in the next few months Jalud would be swept under rain waters considering the speed of the dam construction but there is nobody to listen to our demands of justified resettlement”. “Our future is in the dark”, she fears. The Government has acquired acres of super-fertile land and the S. Kumar's (promoters of the power project) is working on establishing what the company officials call “a new Jalud with much better facilities for the oustees with a school, panchayat bhawan, dispensary etc.”

Work on excavation of soil and rock in power house, power dam, tail race channel and spillway blocks began in full swing from October 97 and since then began the unending travails of the villagers. The 36 composite dam being constructed to generate 400 mw electricity from this purely hydel project would submerge 61 villages either in full or partially and that has sent shock waves. “We have been living under terror and passing sleepless nights for the last couple of months”, says Badrilal Natthuji, an old villager whose 18 acres of fertile land is to be acquired.

But Badrilal who is extremely proud of the fertility of the land of the Nimar area is refusing to budge. A supporter of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), he argues that the Government does not possess the quality of land they had been tilling for all these years. While offering us residential plots and cash compensation the Government has forgotten that we are losing our precious landholdings which we had for generations,” he says.

NBA leader Alok Agarwal and Chittaroopa Palit who were arrested for laying a seizure to the dam last week, charge that the Government is using terror-tactics to oust the villagers and is violating the basic condition of giving land for land by offering cash compensation.

The village has a mix population of the Scheduled Castes and the Rajputs and Yadavs. While the Scheduled Castes (Dalits) have agreed to shift out of the village, sarpanch’s husband Sukhdeo Kanode told The Hindustan Times. But the upper caste is resisting.

He said that a panchayat meeting on February 26 resolved that people would be resettled in the new Jalud village on caste lines.

On the eastern side of the main road the Rajputs would be settled while on the western side of the New Colony Road, the Scheduled Castes would settled. He complained that the villagers were not getting cash compensation for their houses, though plot-for-plot had been agreed by the S. Kumar's officials.

“We are passing through an emotional vicissitude and there can be no compensation for this”, lamented Mahesh Sengar who is employed with the dam construction company. His brother complains that there is no priority to the youngsters of the village in jobs offered by the company. The NBA which is waging a war for the project affected families is raising the objection that the Government is not undertaking a cost-benefit-analysis of the project. “The is not feasible from any angle”, he said. Company’s general manager K. M. Nagbhushan says they were doing their best to provide better amenities to the people.

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