NBA Press Release
  14 October 2005
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Huge demonstration of Indira Sagar oustees in Khandwa: Thousands of oustees file complaints at camp on 14th October

2, Sai nagar, Mata Chowk,
Khandwa,
Madhya Pradesh
Tel/FAX: 07283-233162, 9425056802, 9425087827
Email: nobigdams[at]sancharnet.in

Around 5000 people affected by Indira Sagar Project demonstrated at the District head-quarters of Khandwa yesterday, on the 13th of October 2005. The affected people held a public meeting at Gandhi Bhavan and subsequently went to the NHDC office where they demanded information and replies from the General Manager NHDC and District Collector Khandwa for four hours until late evening. Following the rally and demonstration, on the 14th of October, the District administration and NHDC organised a camp at the NHDC office where thousands of oustees filed their complaints.

Speaking at the public meeting at Gandhi Bhavan compound, the oustees said that their rehabilitation was still outstanding. They said that a regime of terror, repression and violations of all policies and laws was prevailing in Indira Sagar area and this was checked only this year because of the struggle. They also said that those who have already displaced have pauperized. Their fight is not only to get their legitimate rights but to save the dignity of the oustees. They resolved that they will fight for their rights and dignity and will not allow the government to crush them.

They complained that they had been given very low compensation for their lands, and that not a single oustee had been given agricultural land as required under the rehabilitation policy. In a very large number of cases, lands have been acquired but the houses have been excluded, and even the surveys of those to be affected by the back-waters of the dam are yet to begin. In addition to the oustees of the Indira Sagar Project affected in the three districts of Khandwa, Harda and Dewas, the public meeting was addressed by senior activists of the Narmada Bachao Andolan Shri Alok Agarwal, Shri Bhagwan Mukati, Ramkuwarbai and Chittaroopa Palit along with Shri Vasant Shintre of City Trade Union Council, Guliyabai of Kisan Adivasi Sangathan, Ms. Neela Hardikar of MP Mahila Manch and affected representatives of Man, Upper Beda and Maheshwar dams.

After the public meeting, the oustees reached the NHDC office, where the oustees asked for information and replies to their queries and issues from the General Manager NHDC and the Collector Khandwa for nearly 4 hours. In response to demand from the oustees, the officials agreed to provide copies of the Awards, measurement books of their houses and properties, and Family Lists to the Gram Panchayats and individual oustees. They also agreed to acquire the remaining lands and structures of those whose families who have lost more than 75% of their lands to submergence. The officials also agreed to consider the acquisition of houses of those families whose entire lands are in submergence under Section 23 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894.

The oustees stated that the NHDC had given them a pittance in the way of compensation for their lands and despite an express land for land policy, they were not only denied their land rights but also misinformed about their entitlements. The result was that they had not been able to purchase lands with the compensation and would soon be on the streets as paupers, facing hunger and resource-lessness as the thousands affected from 2001 by the NHDC had already become. They demanded that the oustees be given cultivable and irrigable lands as per demand, and that the compensation for land be increased as per market value. In addition, those who have lost less than 5 acres of land, must be given either 5 acres of land or compensation in lieu. The officials also agreed to provide certificates of waiver of stamp duty within a fortnight to the villages.

Oustees affected from various villages expressed their apprehension that thousands of houses would be submerged in the backwaters of the dam, but despite strict legal requirement that these houses be acquired and the families rehabilitated, no action has been taken on the same, and even the initial village surveys have not been done. In the absence of identification and acquisition, the result would be not one but thousands of Dharajis where thousands of families would be submerged and drowned. The General Manager NHDC stated that the State Government was soon to take a decision on this matter. The oustees also flayed the NHDC for the huge amount of corruption and demands for graft being made on them by the officers for providing them their legitimate entitlements.

Regarding the problems of New Harsud, the officials agreed that the denial of plots and transportation allowance to some of the adult sons and adult unmarried daughters of New Harsud was arbitrary, and they had recommended payment to them as soon as possible. They stated that decision about payment for plinths would have to be taken in the Courts. In response to the demand for Employment Guarantee scheme to be implemented in New Harsud, the district authorities stated that they would explore the creation of new employment opportunities including fishing in the reservoir. The gathered hundreds of women of Harsud spoke about the hunger that stalks Harsud, the complete lack of unemployment and their desperation.

Thousands of oustees reached the NHDC office to register their complaints where Land Acquisition officers were present to receive their complaints. Till late evening, several thousand complaints of the oustees were registered.

Suresh Patidar
Dharamraj Jain