Jan Sangharsh Morcha Press Release
  29 May 2002
Jan Sangarsh Morcha

Inhuman Treatment of Tribals Displaced by the Maan Project; The True Face of the Madhya Pradesh Government's Dalit Agenda is Revealed

JAN SANGHARSH MORCHA
Shramik Adivasi Sangathan,
Kothi Bazaar
Betul, Madhya Pradesh
Tel: 07141-33971

The adivasis who will be displaced by the Maan Project in Dhar district are currently facing the brunt of inhuman and unjust treatment at the hands of the Madhya Pradesh government. In ther villages, sources of drinking water, sources of electricity, schools, and hospitals have all either been closed down or have been completely destroyed and this has left adivasi families in a situation of grave crisis. People are being forced to get by on water unfit for human and animal consumption. Despite all this, the people are determined to continue their struggle for resettlement on the basis of land-for-land.

The Jan Sangharsh Morcha team which visited the submergence villages of the Maan Project on 29th May 2002 comprised members of the Kisan Adivasi Sangathan, Shramik Adivasi Sangathan, Bargi Bandh Visthapit Sangh, Ekta Parishad, Jagrut Dalit Adivasi Sangathan, Bhopal Gas Pidit Mahila Udyog Sangathan, Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, among others. This team held discussions with the adivasi people and witnessed the results of the violence and scare tactics unleashed on the people by the state government. The Jan Sangharsh Morcha team was also present at village Khedi at the time when Deputy Chief Minster Subhash Yadav was making his own visit there.

The team was told that, on 17th May, 16 handpumps were forcibly removed by government officials accompanied by an armed police force. Since then the villages in the submergence zone are facing a water crisis of massive proportions. The people are being forced to subsist on the unclean water which still remains in a few depressions in the Maan river. This water is leading to health problems among the people. The list of people who have fallen ill due to contaminated water is as follows:

Village Name Age Complaint Rehtiyaon Parvin Shankar 1 vomiting, skin rash Rehtiyaon Manoj Vikram 9 vomiting, skin rash Khedi Ansingh Husan 40 swelling on neck Khanpura Mangilal Govind 4 vomiting, diarhhea Khanpura Anita Govind 10 vomiting, diarhhea Khanpura Sunita Govind 7 vomiting, diarhhea Khanpura Subhadra 20 vomiting, diarhhea

The water that cattle are refusing to drink is currently being consumed by people. Children especially are being afflicted by various kinds of skin diseases due to the water. The only government doctor in that area has been removed from duty and there are no other facilities available for medical care.

Due to the disruption of electricity and the removal of transformers incidents of nighttime looting and robbery have increased. More than 50,000 trees have been felled and this has severely affected agriculture and other forms of livelihood of the adivasi families.

When the people opposed the removal of handpumps and the felling of trees, the government officials abused them verbally and beat up a few people. Adivasi women were manhandled by the officials. In fact, on 12th May, Shri Shivraj Singh Verma, the Sub-Divisional Magistrate at Manawar, had threatened that he would pick up the adivasi girls and sell them in the market if they stood in the way of the destruction being wrought by the administration. Given this, the Jan Sangharsh Morcha demands that the Dhar Collector, the Police Superintendent and the Manawar SDM be prosecuted under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Atrocities Prevention Act. If the Madhya Pradesh governent is even slightly serious about its Dalit Agenda then it should immediately put a stop to such injustices, take action against the misbehaving officers, take all steps to ensure complete and satisfactory rehablitation, and should stop all work on the Maan Project to ensure that the villages are not submerged without rehabilitation.

It is extremely disturbing that though the Deputy Chief Minister, Shri Subhash Yadav, visited the submergence area of the Maan Project on 29th May, he has not so far outlined any concrete plans to take care of the crisis being faced by the adivasis. After alighting from his helicopter and arriving at the village of Khedi in a convoy consisting of 30 vehicles, Shri Subhash Yadav talked to the assembled people for hardly ten minutes. The Collector and other officials were with him and if he wanted he could have reached a decision on the spot. But all he did was ask the people of Khedi to show up at the Collector's office the next day. When the people asked that their handpumps be restored, the Collector tersely replied that this could not be done, and the Deputy Chief Minster stood by quietly listening to this. There can be no clearer example of the insensitivity of the state government towards the adivasis.

The Jan Sangharsh Morcha team also visited the resettlement sites. It is close to impossible for the adivasis to eke out a living on these very small plots, which are built on stony land and often surrounded by the fields of hostile, non-displaced farmers. Moreover, there is no place for cattle or facilities for grazing at the resettlement sites. This kind of resettlement contravenes all state, national, and international policies on rehabilitation and violates the human rights of the displaced adivasis.

It is the Madhya Pradesh government's own rehabilitation policy that promises land-for-land as part of the resettlement package. The people displaced by the Maan Project have clearly demanded land-for-land. Ten years ago they were given a little amount of cash as compensation without complete information about the clauses of the rehabilitation policy. The adivasis are willing to return this money. In fact, they have already chosen the land that they would like to be resttled on. Despite this, the government has taken no steps to provide them with land and instead is making preparations to drown them. This displays the unjust and anti-people nature of the state. In this context, the question that arises is that, if the 17 villages and 1200 families being diplaced by the Maan Project cannot be satisfactorily rehabilitated by the government, then how will the more than 250 villages being displaced by the Sardar Sarovar, Naramda Sagar, and other big dams be resettled? The utter inability of the government to resettle people has thus becomes clear from the experience of the Maan Project.

On the one hand the Madhya Pradesh government loudly proclaims its Dalit Agenda, Tribal Self-rule policies, and Gram Swaraj programs. On the other, its own atrocities against dalits and adivasis are constantly increasing. The shooting in Mehndikheda village in Dewas district, other shootings and atrocities in forest areas, and the government’s treatment of people displaced by the Sardar Sarovar and the Maan Projects reveal the extreme hollowness of the government's claims to being participatory and progressive. The Madhya Pradesh state government's true nature thus has been exposed for all to see.

Sunil, Kisan Adivasi Sangathan / Samajwadi Jan Parishad
Rajkumar Sinha, Bargi Bandh Visthapit evam Prabhavit Sangh
Prashant, Ekta Parishad
Shamim, Shramik Adivasi Sangathan
Madhuri, Jagrut Dalit Adivasi Sangathan
Rakesh Dewan, freelance journalist
Abdul Jabbar, Bhopal Gas Pidit Mahila Udyog Sangathan
M. P. Soni, Kisan Sangharsh Samiti