Manthan Adhyayan Kendra
119 Satpuda Colony,
Badwani (M.P.) 451 551
Ph: 07290-24 867 Fax: c/o: (07290) 22168
Case Of Village Jabgoan Affected By Indira Sagar Project
Manthan Adhyayan Kendra has conducted an investigation into the situation of village Jabgaon, one of the villages to be submerged by the Indira Sagar Pariyojana. The investigation is based on the several discussions that team had with the villagers. The team found that contrary to the claims of the government that the village has been resettled, the entire process of rehabilitation was in shambles.
There were several discrepancies in the lists of Project Affected People. While the policy clearly states a "land for land" position, the government has violated this by not providing alternate land and introducing cash for land. The policy states that the valuation of land is to be based on the value of similar land in the command area, but this has not been the case. The land has been grossly under valued. The principle of community rehabilitation had also not been honoured.
Landless labourers have been compensated only with cash and no sources of alternate means of livelihood have been envisaged. They have been therefore left to fend for themselves. A Special Rehabilitation Package has also been declared for the farmers and the landless labourers in order to increase the amount of compensation that the people would receive; however, even this has not been sufficient to help the people rehabilitate themselves. Irrigation pipelines, were also not compensated for. Compensation for house and houseplots were not sufficient since their valuation was done in an ad-hoc manner.
Government services in the village have been discontinued in the year 2001. Rehabilitation sites that had been 'developed' were inadequate- both with respect to the number of sites as well as the civic amenities that were 'provided' at these sites. No agricultural land had been acquired near these sites either. Corruption at each level of the process of resettlement and rehabilitation was reported by the people to be unchecked and widespread. All in all, there was not a semblance of resettlement of this village.
Yet, on 24th April 2002, the government issued a notice of eviction to this village saying that the people should shift out of the village with their cattle and belongings by 20th May 2002 and in the event the villagers, not paying heed to the notice, remained in the village, any loss of life and property due to floods would not be the responsibility of the government!
Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, which had been following the events in the history of the construction of this dam, decided to attempt to bring to fore the ground realities regarding the status of resettlement and rehabilitation of villages affected by this project. This is an on-going study and this is a preliminary report. It was thought that the situation would be analysed at 3 points in time: pre-monsoon, monsoon and post-monsoon. Accordingly, 2 visits to this village had been undertaken: the first in the first week of May and the second in the third week of August. There have been less than normal monsoons this year and therefore while the village has not been submerged, some farms had been flooded. Following is a brief summary of the report.
Jabgaon is one of the 249 villages to be submerged by the Indira Sagar reservoir which is to be the largest in the country. There are 600 households in the village with a total population of 3000. The villagers knew that a dam was to come up which would submerge their homes and lands only in the late 1980s. Since the mid-1980s, Jabgaon and other villages have on several occasions voiced their concerns on being resettled and rehabilitated in a just manner. These villages in the submergence area were active in the formation of the Narmada Sangharsh Samiti during 1987-88. In 1994 surveys were conducted in the village. Notices under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act were issued to the people in 1995. The process of distribution of compensation began in 1996.
Ø Erroneous PAP lists
The surveys conducted to ascertain the number of families and adult children in the village have been faulty. Around 150 names have not been included in the final list. Adult sons and daughters have been left out of the list, while children who are minors have been included. The policy itself is unclear with regards inclusion of women who have been widowed. The list that has been made when the Special Rehabilitation Package was announced also has similar discrepancies.
Ø Land for Land
The policy says that alternate agricultural land will be given to farmers whose 25% or more land will be submerged. Initially the people were offered some patches of land, which were of extremely low quality. The people refused to accept this land. The people were then told by the Government that it had no land to give them. It was after this that cash compensation was offered. However, at the start, lands have been grossly undervalued. The cash that is offered is to be used to purchase agricultural land, but is inadequate. Moreover, the procedure is so wrought with loopholes, it has been misused on several occasions. Finally, the money was given in installments. A result of this has been that people have not been able to purchase agricultural land. And those few who have been able to do so have purchased less land than they own today, or have had to settle for land whose quality is low. The compensation received for irrigated land is Rs. 60,000 and that for unirrigated land is Rs. 40,000. While, the value of irrigated land in the command area is Rs. 1,00,000 and that of unirrgated land is Rs. 80,000. Corruption was reported to be rampant.
Ø Community Resettlement
The principle of community was to be followed in the process of resettlement and rehabilitation. However, the government has not been able to acquire agricultural land near the rehabilitation sites. Some families have purchased some amounts of land with the amount of compensation received. They have not been able to purchase land as a community since there is no region where such land is available as would accommodate the entire village. In a random survey conducted by the team in August 2002 wherein 24 farmers were spoken with, it has been found that they have bought land in 17 different villages. Therefore the village is bound to be eventually dispersed and fragmented.
Ø Landless Labourers
The landless labourers are offered only cash compensation. The Special Rehabilitation package consists of rehabilitation grant, subsistence allowance and grant for productive assets. This section of the package that was offered to the landless labourers was higher than that was offered to the landed. A number of people who own some tiny patch of land and are de facto landless laboureres have been treated as landowners, and have therefore not been able to benefit from the increase in money given as part of the Special Rehabilitation Package. Further, the government has discriminated against the various classes of landless labourers. While people involved in the traditional occupations of ironsmith, barber, blacksmith etc. have been considered as landless labourers, those involved in more contemporary occupations like tailors, cycle shop owners and paan shop owners have not been considered as landless labourers, but as traders. The outcome of this is that, those who have been this second group (i.e. the traders) are not eligible to the compensation due to the landless labourers and are on the other hand a business tax is deducted from the compensation due to them! The special issue of loss of river-based economy of traditional communities like the Kevat and Kahars (Fisher Communities) has not been considered at all.
Ø Irrigation piplelines not compensated
Those whose fields are on the banks of the Chota Tawa river (this borders the village on one side) have installed pipelines for lift irrigation. These irrigation pipelines in the village have not even been surveyed, much less being compensated for. Yet, while the electricity to the village has been discontinued, they continue to receive bills for the motors on the pipelines. The policy, in fact, does not mention any compensation for the pipelines.
Ø Compensation for house and houseplots
The surveys of the houses have been done in an arbitrary and ad-hoc manner, where only the length and the breadth of the house was measured. The number of rooms in the house, the wood and the materials used for the construction of the house has not been valued. The monetary appraisal of the houseplot has also been done in a similarly capricious manner. Due to these reasons, the price of the houses has also been grossly undervalued.
Ø Discontinuation of government services in the village
All the government services that had been available in the village, except the health service and ration shop. For example the school, post office, electric supply, and the bank services in the village have been discontinued, even though the majority of the villagers continue ot stay there. The village also does not anymore receive any fund for development works in the village. Due the closing of the school, the children have to travel 4 kms. to the school in the neighbouring village, taking the bus at 7.30 a.m. in the morning, while the school begins only at 11.00 a.m. When the school gets over in the evening, they have to walk back to the village since there is no other means of transport available. Communication between relatives has also come to a standstill to the closing down of the post office.
Ø Resettlement Sites
The location of the sites, the facilities to be provided at the sites etc. was decided by the government with no consultation with the people. None of the sites have yet been equipped with any of the civic amenities that should be provided. There are no agricultural lands that have been acquired at these sites. There are also no operational village units near these sites whereby the landless labourers may either work as farm labour or even set up small shops. Hence none of the people - farmers or labourers- want to move to these sites.
The people even in the face of imminent submergence reaffirmed their stand to this team. Despite the fact that every time the people have challenged the government they have faced repression, the people firmly told the team that they would not leave the village till all their demands had been met and they were satisfactorily rehabilitated. As Bhagvat Darbar says ‘Let them bomb the village or fill it with water, that is the only way to wipe out this village!’
Due to less than normal rains this year, the village has not been submerged. However, water had entered some farms and the crops were destroyed.
The conclusion that stares starkly in one's face is that there has been a process of complete abdication of responsibility by the Government in Jabgaon. For most of the people, there is no place to go if they are evicted from the village. For most of the people, there are no means of livelihood when their village will submerge. Clearly, the future of the village is bleak, and this is a clear case of gross violations of basic human rights and the fundamental Right to Life guaranteed by the Indian constitution under Article 21.
According to a recent High Court judgement, the Grievance Redressal Authority chaired by Shri. Ravindra Sharma is to look into the matter of resettlement and rehabilitation. This is a positive move, we hope that the fundamental problems of the people will be solved.
Manthan aims to continue to monitor the situation with the collaboration of other organizations.
Mukesh Jat and Swathi Seshadri, Manthan Adhyayan Kendra
This report has been prepared by Manthan Adhyayan Kendra. The Kendra is a centre set up to monitor, analyse and research water and energy related issues, with a special focus on the latest developments resulting from the liberalisation, globalisation and privatisation of the economy. The Centre is located at Badwani, a district town in Madhya Pradesh five kilometers from the banks of Narmada. While the focus of the work is on water and energy issues, this will be in the larger context of equitable, just and sustainable development.