THE NARMADA HUMAN RIGHTS OBSERVER TEAM'S VISIT
FROM JULY 2 TO JULY 8, 1993
The team members comprised
1. Gautam Vohra, Chairman, Development Research & Action Group
2. Satyendra Ranjan, Secretary, PUCL, Delhi Unit
3. N.D. Jayaprakash, Joint Secretary, Delhi Science Forum
The team visited the following villages/sites in Gujarat and Maharashtra:
i) Rehabilitation (Resettlement) sites: Pansoli and Simaliya in
Daboi taluka, Golagamdi in Sankheda taluka and Kamboikuva and
Chametha in Naswadi taluka of Baroda district, Gujarat.
ii) Submergence-zone villages: Vadgam, Gulwani (Khalwani), Gadher
in Nandod Taluka (or Rajpipla Taluka), Bharuch District, Gujarat.
Manibeli, Dhankhedi, Chimalkheri and Sindoori in Dhule district,
iii) 4 Canal-affected villages: Shamsherpura and Garkoi in Nandod
taluka, Bharuch district, Gujarat.
iv) (Kevadia) Colony-affected villages: Kothi, Gora and Kewadia
(Nichalaya Phaliya) in Nandod Taluka, Bharuch district, Gujarat.
The team visited rehabilitation sites, and the submergence zone
with officials of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL);
it went to rehabilitation sites, submergence zone villages, canal
and colony affected villages with members of the Narmada Bachao
The team encountered violation of human rights at the rehabilitation
sites submergence zone villages canal-affected villages colony-affected
Police high-handedness was evident in the way members of the Gujarat
State Home Guards forced their way into the huts of the villagers
ostensibly to record their possessions that might be lost in the
Narmada waters, Vadgam being among the first villages to face
submergence. It is located right next to the Sardar Sarovar Dam.
Bachubhai Raghunath, among the 24 families that have returned
from the rehabilitation site at Vadgam, put it succinctly "They
(the police) pointed the gun at me and noted the goods in my house;
then they asked me to sign under the list they had made".
Members of the 24 households, Tadvi tribals, were resettled in
Malu in 1989. After three years of trying to make a living there
they have returned to Vadgam. Amritbhai Tadvi captures the prevailing
sentiment among them when he says "I'll rather drown than
move back to Malu".
Shankar Kagde related a typical experience of the Malu returnees:
"My elder brother was farming the plot of land given to him.
The landlord turned up and said "Pemabhai I'll take the crop
of your field". The landlord had not been compensated by
the government for the land he had surrendered to the resettlers.
Hence like others in a similar situation, Pemabhai approached
the rehabilitation centre in Kewadia which immediately gave the
assurance that all will be set right. Nothing was done then; the
situation remained unchanged for the duration of their stay at
Another incidence of the indifference that demonstrates the attitude
of the administration was the collousness of the police when the
oustees reported the theft from their residence. About a dozen
armed dacoits looted their belongings, taking all the gehana (jewellery)
they could lay their hands on. Dhirubhai Zeena (of Kaked hamlet
of Vadgam) said they told the police that they did not want to
be killed, they rather leave if they did not receive protection.
The police reacted strangely. First they wanted the oustees to
describe the dacoits who had come in the middle of the night.
Then they suggested "Why don't you say they looted the honour
of your women, then you'll be compensated well by the government".
The various hamlets of Vadgam had 700 families. Now but for 33
families (of which 24 have returned from Malu), Vadgam is deserted,
its residents resettled in 28 villages, father in one, son in
another, and other extended family members in yet another.
CHIMALKHERI, SINDOORI, DHANKHEDI (MAHARASHTRA)
Like several villages in the submergence zone that the team visited,
the villagers can be said to fall into three categories:
i) Those who will not move, no matter what, and are willing to
do samarpan if necessary
ii) Those who are willing to be resettled but have not been shown
iii) Those who have been taken to several locations for rehabilitation
but have not liked them.
Bijaya Jugla, a Vasava tribal, who has represented the Valley
in Norway and Britain in debates with the World Bank last November,
and owns about 7 to 9 acres spread over pockets in Chimalkheri,
had been shown several rehabilitation sites in the eighties but
he did not care for any, hence he has remained in Chimalkheri.
According to his estimate, about 50 percent of the villagers would
shift if they had an alternative site to move to. He too is willing
to do so provided the residents of Chimalkheri are resettled in
one site, and not allocated different areas as is the current
Batel Singh Ulya who, along with three brothers, owns 10 acres
in Chimalkheri wanted to resettle during 1985-87 but the government
did not listen to their pleas. Like Sonda Rodwa, a Vasava adivasi
of Chimalkheri whose father cultivates five acres of unregistered
land, he will now not resettle even if land is offered to them:
they have decided to oppose the government which has treated them
with callousness and contempt.
Among the handful of literates among the adivasis living in this
remote region of Dhule district -- it had no road until last year
when the Maharashtra government decided to construct one linking
all the villages from Manibeli along the submergence zone in order
to evict the villagers -- Batel Singh Ulya was an undergraduate
at a Dhule college when he heard of a school that the NBA had
decided to open in his village. He gave up college to teach in
his village school which is one of two others that it runs: the
second at Peepachuk and the third at Nimgaon in Akrani tehsil,
Dhule district. The parents of the children provide the food for
their wards. Of the 40 children 30 live in the school premises
(an ashram school) and books, slates, equipment, sometimes foodgrains,
as well as the teacher salaries, are provided by the NBA. These
schools follow the government syllabus for 5-7 year olds.
Eight families from Chimalkheri have been rehabilitated in Parveta,
but they are full of woes. The women in particular are unhappy
for having been separated from the kith and kin of their village.
At Sindoori, the authorities landed up with vehicles to move the
people, but they did not. Ganga behn, who has three daughters
and a son aged 10 years, says they will not shift even if their
village submerges. They have refused to see alternative sites
for rehabilitation and five acres of irrigable land on offer.
Along with her husband and Mathurabhai she participated in the
Harsud (Madhya Pradesh) rally and the Jan Vikas Sangharsha Yatra.
Ganga behn observes that "some people in the Valley are not
behind her (Medha Patkar) because the greed of land has overcome
The position of Raju behn of Sindoori is no different to that
of Ganga behn. It is not as if life is comfortable for them at
the submergence village. Ten family members depend on 10 acres
of land owned by Sesriya bhai, the head of the family. In any
case, they have not even been shown an alternative dwelling site
to move to once the village goes under.
The tragedy is that there is no land available for people who
want to be resettled. And this tragedy is that of Dhankhedi: all
of them are keen on rehabilitation elsewhere. The danger to their
homes is proclaimed by a notice thus:
Notice of danger: Dhankhedi Patil pada and Kudrai pada are informed
that the water level will be 88.2 metres in 1993 monsoon. The
lowest hut of Dhankhedi village is at 75.50 metres. As these padas
will be submerged, the residents should find safe places. In an
emergency, the tin sheds that have been constructed can be used.
It is signed "By order of the collector" (of Maharashtra).
Such notices were also put up in Sindoori and Chimalkheri. They
have been knocked down by the villagers in a show of defiance.
They have no intention of leaving their homes. In Manibeli the
notice was removed no sooner than it was erected on the metal
Gimbia Ramji, a Vasava resident of Dhankhedi, is unhappy with
the government for offering them land that they cannot possibly
occupy. "They took us to Sagbara (in Gujarat) and showed
us other people's land. How can we settle on it", he says.
Then the land shown has been of such poor quality that no one
would want it.
Gimbia has been a staunch supporter of Narmada Dharangrast Samiti,
which along with the Narmada Asargrast Samiti (Gujarat) and the
Narmada Ghati Navnirman Samiti (Madhya Pradesh) today forms the
Narmada Bachao Andolan. But he left the Samiti a while ago since
he claims it failed to support the Dhankhedi residents when the
police forcibly tried to evict them and they resisted. In the
process several tribals including two of Gimbia's family members
were put behind bars. He has participated in the Jan Vikas Sanghrasha
Yatra and says he and others are keen to re-join the Narmada Dhrangrastha
Manibeli has been submerged since the team's visit. The occupation
status of its various hamlets was as follows:
Sarpanchh Pada: 6 houses
Patel Pada: 12 houses
Vami Pada: 32 houses
total 50 houses
All the 35 families of the fourth pada, Kadamu, have been resettled
in Parveta; seven families from Sarpanch pada have gone to Sarsinda.
And many have harrowing tales to relate about life in these sites.
The Sarsinda site is totally unlike Manibeli in terms of vegetation,
soil and climatic conditions. When the Manibeli (Sarpanch pada)
residents arrived in Sarsinda, they were unpleasantly surprised
to find that they did not so much as have a tin roof to protect
them from the monsoon rains. They got the tin sheds several days
later, 10 feet by 20 feet, which lack proper ventilation facilities
and have to be shared with their livestock. Most of them have
not yet been allotted the five acres of irrigable land; in the
circumstances they are unlikely to secure a crop in the coming
season. Firewood remains a problem for want of tree cover in the
From Patel pada __ as from Kadamu __ several families have shifted
to Parveta including the brothers-in-law of Vithal bhai, a Tadvi,
whose hut will be among the first few to be submerged once the
waters begin to rise. Though he has visited them in Parveta, he
has no wish to shift as he has seen what life is like in the rehabilitation
colonies. He owns two acres in Manibeli and is willing to stay
there and fight for his land though his village, like Dhankhedi,
Sindoori and Chimalkheri, are in the remote interior: to do their
shopping the residents have to cross the Narmada into Kewadia
or Gadher, both in Gujarat; the trip takes a full day.
Vithal bhai was first arrested when along with others he opposed
the government as it began building the road to Manibeli. He was
put behind bars again a few months ago when he tried to prevent
the destruction of Narmadai, the NBAs office-cum-shelter.
He is not an original resident of Manibeli. He settled here 20
years ago when he married a Manibeli girl. In fact, for five years
since 1986, he was among those willing to move to a rehabilitation
site but the government took no notice of their appeals. Now they
are all opposed to its plans for rehabilitation.
When the team was in Manibeli its residents were busy re- building
the huts that were dismantled through police action during the
end of May and early June. The story of how Keshubhai's daughter
Kunta on her own confronted the police to prevent them and other
members of the administration including the collector from destroying
her home on June 30 is now well known. On July 3 the house was
finally pulled down despite Kunta's valiant efforts. Her father
Keshubhai __ the only Marathi speaking person in Manibeli __ had
been "hijacked" to Kewadia ostensibly to be shown land
(in Manipur, Sankheda taluka, Gujarat) for resettlement.
On June 21, Keshubhai received some of the material (from Anup
Kumar, the Collector) to re-build his hut as per the conditions
accepted by the government in its negotiations with NBA. But in
the first week of July, the job of construction was not complete.
Keshubhai, like other villagers living below the poverty line,
stated that he had not received any compensation for the bakri
(goat), murgi (chicken) and the wagon-load of wood that he had
lost during "operation demolish". He complained "they
have not even returned my water matka and chakki".
Since all the material for the construction of Keshubhai's house
had not been provided, the Manibeli residents decided that they
would not allow the construction of the helipad (the other one
is expected to be set up in Dhankhedi). The sarpanch, Narayan
bhai, said "We told the labourers - 85 in number - that it
would not be correct to allow it to be built while material for
a poor man's hut was not being made available by the administration.
They all went away. Even the contractor did not protest".
Apart from the resettlement colonies breaking up family ties,
most are disliked by the potential oustees as they are not located
near forests as are most of the existing submergence zone villages.
As the sarpanch explained "If land is our mother where our
forefathers have lived, the forest is our father. It gives us
sustenance". Hence the resettlers are not only deprived of
minor forest produce, but such a basic necessity as firehood.
These considerations are primarily responsible for many adivasis
refusing to leave their homes for areas that can never be converted
into one. Keval Singh, a Paura tribal from Nimgaon in Dalgaon
taluka and Muraria Khomaria of Silakda, Dalgaon taluka, Dhule
district, are now living in Manibeli working for the NBA. Like
many villagers in the submergence zone in Gujarat, and Maharashtra,
they too were keen to shift in the initial stages and as members
of the Narmada Dharangrast Samiti for three year (1986-1989) they
kept asking for land, forest land, but the government said that
not one inch of forest land would be given them. It is ironical
that Maharashtra has since reversed its stand and recently 800
hectares of prime forest land has been cleared in Taloda (Dhule
District) to house resettlers.
In any case, in the late eighties the government was against surrendering
forest land, and the alternative sites shown to Keval Singh and
Muraria Khomaria as well as their village brethen were either
unsuitable or inadequate to rehabilitate them. Some then visited
Gujarat for land and even there they found they could not make
a home. By this stage they had become aware of the kind of development
the dam sought to promote. The Harsud Rally (1989), in which all
the 33 villages of Maharashtra's submergence zone participated
(from M.P. too thousands came, but only a few hundred from Gujarat)
and the Jan Vikas Sangharsha Yatra (1990) were the turning points
in their consciousness about the nature of development being imposed
on them by Delhi. Since then many like Keval and Muraria have
been opposing the dam, ready to drown than be shifted to an alternative
Keval Singh owns little land but he secured a livelihood by working
in the forest (Satpura Range) near his village (Nimgaon) which
has 120 households (population 600) all of whom are ready for
samarpan. Muraria Khomaria, a Bhil, too owns little land and the
residents of his village Silakda (150 households, 650 population)
have the same approach as those of Nimgaon.
MODEL RESETTLEMENT SITES: PANSOLI, SIMALIYA, GOLAGAMDI-I (GUJARAT)
Except for the naive, no one is deceived by the model resettlement
colonies that Gujarat government has created and which Maharashtra
government has sought to upstage with its Somaval resettlement
in Taloda forest. These are visited by MPs, MLAs, international
journalists, and in the past, World Bank officials.
At first glance, the housing does appear impressive compared to
the tin sheds measuring 15 feet by 20 feet that oustees have elsewhere.
The homes of the resettlers such as Varsan Narju, a Rathva from
Turkheda, Chota Udepur taluka, Baroda district, in Pansoli are
built of brick-cum-cement with Mangalore tiled slanting roofs,
and are relatively large. The land they have is in the command
area, the school is in the nearby village (Kherwadi); medical
facilities and electricity have been provided. The government
has spent as much as Rs.1.5 to Rs.2 lakhs per Project Affected
Person (PAP): Rs.75,000 for agricultural land (for five acres,
the current rate being Rs.15,000 an acre), Rs.15,000 for the residential
plot, Rs.10,000 as subsidy and Rs.50,000 as infrastructural facilities.
All very impressive until one has a closer look (which elected
representatives and most World Bank officials on a whirlwind trip
do not have the time for). For then you discover, as the team
did, that as elsewhere there is not much of a life in these settlements.
In Pansoli, for instance, there are 150 families from four villages:
Turkheda and Hapeshwar in Chota Udepur taluka, Fekhda (Naswadi
taluka) and Mokhdi.
In Simaliya, the other model village, the resettlers are from
Vadgam, Mokhdi, Sekhbar and Kaked. Sixty-six-year-old Kamji bhai
says of the four hand-pumps, two are not working; there are no
grazing lands for the cattle of the 150 families.
His complaints are drowned by the numerous supporters of the government
who have benefited after shifting to the new site. These are,
after all, the show pieces. Else why would the SSNNL take visitors
to them. Let us glance through the litany of praise:
* Gopal Koni, a Tadvi, who came from Vadgam in 1991 said their
hut was near the Narmada, so the government served them a notice,
warning them that their place would get flooded. Gopal and his
family moved, so did his five brothers who had to subsist on 2.25
acres. Now each brother has five acres. They have some surplus
produce left for sale. They grow cotton, tur, maize and paddy.
The last is grown on land that is in the command area; not all
land comes under it.
* Laxman Chunilal, ex-sarpanch of Vadgam, who has settled in Golagamdi
since 1991, says that they have all been given more land than
they had and hence life is comfortable in the resettled colony.
His thirteen-year-old daughter, who served us water, was going
to school while in Vadgam; now she has stopped doing so since
"there is so much work on the fields", explains her
father. One son has learnt driving, the other is in class 10.
The ex-sarpanch himself has become a building contractor, "in
a small way".
Laxman, as a true votary of the government, is critical of the
NBA for trying to prevent the construction of the dam and hence
"come in the way of progress". On being reminded that
in the early days when dams were being built such as the Bhakra
Nangal, the oustees were not given any compensation, let alone
land and had it not been for the NBA he would not have secured
five acres and other benefits, the ex-sarpanch maintains a studied
He is perplexed. His question reveals the reason: "When we
have got so many benefits, and I and others have told journalists
about them time and again, why don't they believe us, why do they
believe the NBA?"
Not So Model Colonies: Golagamdi-II, Kamboikuva, Chametha (Gujarat)
Intriguingly, the Golagamdi village, or Golagamdi-II, less than
a kilometre away from Golagamdi-I is anything but a show piece.
The resettlers here __ 32 households __ are from Madhya Pradesh
(Jalasindhi and Akadia villages of Alirajpur taluka, Jhabua district).
Sixty-year-old Ugraunia says that their village began to submerge,
and since the Madhya Pradesh government did not offer them any
land they came to Gujarat. The residents of this re- settlement
site complain that
* The cultivable land given to them is dry land and it is difficult
to grow anything on it, other than a monsoon crop.
* Their forefathers had forest land; it is hard to get accustomed
to an area without trees.
* The hand-pumps work, but the water is not potable.
* All the Madhya Pradesh resettlers are still living in tin sheds
unlike the Golagamdi-I residents. (Is this because the latter
are (i) Gujaratis and (ii) the state government makes greater
efforts to provide benefits, including those under IRDP and ITDP,
to its own people on a priority basis?)
* Though they have been at the site for over two years, many have
still to receive the loan and subsidy of Rs.10,000/- for laying
the foundation (plinth) for their houses.
The Kamboikuva resettlement site has oustees from Gadher (46 families),
Vadgam (two families), Panchmoli (two families) and Khalwani (two
Ambalal Dalpat, a Tadvi, came to Kamboikuva four years ago, and
though he gave up two acres in Gadher to secure five acres on
which he grows kapas, makai, jowar, dangar, he does not like it
at the resettlement site. He had to leave Gadher as it is a full
submergence village (unlike others which are partial submergence
villages). In fact, most of the 1,000 odd Gadher residents, spread
out over 13 villages, have left for resettlement sites. The team
did, however, meet Vechan Jhina, a Tadvi, who had not left Gadher,
though his three brothers had, having secured land in Daboi and
Nandod Talukas. He too has secured land, but interestingly enough
does not like it since it is irrigated. He maintains that it has
got waterlogged as the land is in the command area adjoining the
canal. Vechan will return to the resettlement site if he is given
unirrigated land which will enable him to grow tur and arhad.
Ambalal Dalpat is unhappy at Kamboikuva because his kith and kin
are no longer with him. They have been packed off to as many as
62 resettlement sites. What is more, he has not obtained good
quality land: only grass grows on it, no crops. Nearly two out
of three resettlers have secured such land.
Vikram Raiji, a 26 year old Tadvi, at least made a living at Gadher
by doing mazdoori an other people's land during the monsoon. At
Kamboikuva, there is no work; the Patel gives him no more than
Rs.10/- a day to cultivate his land, "which just about covers
the cost of my bidis and chai" observed Vikram.
Kasiram Nana, a Tadvi, who came to the Chametha resettlement site
from Gadher four years ago has an altogether another sort of complaint.
Like others at Chametha, he says that they have not been given
five acres, but less land. And most of it is of poor quality.
They have approached the SSNNL and requested it to change the
land they have been given. That apart, the two-room school does
not cater to the needs of their children. The davakhana is seven
kilometres away at Naswadi.
CANAL AFFECTED VILLAGES
The plight of the canal affected and colony affected villagers
differs from those living in the submergence zones and the resettlement
colonies essentially in terms of the period of displacement. Whereas
the submergence zone residents began to be shifted to the resettlement
colonies towards the end of the nineteen eighties, the canal affected
people lost their land in the early eighties and the Kewadia residents
did so in the early sixties.
To take the canal affected first, Mohan Lalu, a Tadvi, resident
of Shamsherpura, lost three acres of land to the main canal, and
a well, in 1981. The land, he said, had 235 trees.
He was compensated only for the land at the rate of Rs.3,200 an
acre by the SSNNL which acquired it.
As many as 42 families (households) in Shamsherpura have lost
their land to the canal. Of these, seven families have had to
give up their entire holding to the canal and most have settled
elsewhere, making a living by working on other people's land or
taking up any job that comes their way.
Mohan Lalu, now that he has only half an acre left to him, survives
by doing mazdoori wherever he can get it. He feels cheated for
being forced to sell to the SSNNL at the paltry rate. Now his
land would have fetched him Rs.15,000 - Rs.20,000 an acre.
Like him the residents of Garkoi who have had to surrender their
land to the SSNNL for the canal too want to be compensated at
Devji Moti, a Tadvi, ex-sarpanch of Garkoi has lost four acres
to the Narmada mukhya (main) canal. Though he has 10 acres left,
five of it is on the other side of the canal and he finds it difficult
to cultivate it since there is no bridge over the canal to enable
him to cross it. And that is a common complaint.
He is particularly perturbed by the fact that the SSNNL acquired
his land in 1981 at Rs.2,800 an acre whereas most others received
Rs.3,200 an acre.
Kantilal Hira, a Tadvi, lost 8.5 acres to the canal. This land
was owned jointly by four brothers, residents of Garkoi. Now they
all survive on mazdoori: work on the dam sites, carrying rubble
in baskets; or in the forest, planting saplings under the schemes
initiated by the SSNNL to counter the criticism that valuable
forests have been lost, and continue to be lost to the dam.
Sixty-year-old Manchu Ukar lost his entire two acres to the canal;
he does "casual mazdoori" around Garkoi. His son is
taken to the dam by truck 20 kms. away where he earns Rs.20/25
The canal-affected have formed a committee and have demonstrated
on several occasions to draw attention to their demands. Last
year, from zero point (the starting point of the main canal) it
organised a padyatra which was stopped at the boundary of Sankheda
taluka -- the beginning of the Chief Minister, Chimanbhai Patel's
constituency -- and the leaders were arrested. In December 1992,
4,000 of the canal affected villagers staged a dharna in front
of Narmada Bhavan (SSNNL's headquarters) in Baroda. All courted
COLONY AFFECTED VILLAGES
The canal affected residents and the colony affected residents'
common experience is that they were forced to surrender their
land to the State for a scheme that would not benefit them.
While the canal affected received some compensation for the land
that the authorities took over, the colony affected did not receive
any for the land they gave up.
They did receive some cash, but for the standing crop on their
land. They were duped into parting with their land.
Balibehn Champak, a Tadvi adivasi, of Kothi lost 6.5 acres on
which Kewadia colony officers' flats have been built.
In 1961, Jawaharlal Nehru visited Kewadia and told the Kothi residents
that all they needed was land for a helipad. That is how the whole
scheme started, and gradually the authorities acquired the land
on which the residents of six villages depended.
Each person whose land was taken was paid Rs.60 to Rs.150 per
acre of the standing crop. Under the guise of crop payment villagers
signed away their land.
For the 6.5 acres Balibehn received a pitiable Rs.900. Her case
is no different to the residents of the five other villages.
Shankar Kuber, a resident of Kewadia (Nichalaya Phaliya), had
to give up his land too on the basis of the calculations made
by the government on the value of his crop. His father owned 44
acres, and this was divided between Shankar and his two brothers.
Since they lost the land to the colony, Shankar acquired a job
with the PWD drilling section, as also his second brother, and
both earn Rs.1,500 a month. The third brother is unemployed.
Shankar and his brothers are more concerned with how their children
will survive. For jobs are difficult to come by and they have
lost the land that had belonged to their forefathers.
Mangan Jiva's father surrendered 16 acres of land in Gora village
to the authorities at Rs.80 to Rs.100 per acre. This land was
to be shared between Mangan and his two brothers. Like Shankar,
Mangan is worried about the future of his progeny, and his own,
once he retires. At present he is employed as a peon in the Circuit
House of the Kewadia colony. His other brothers too have found
jobs in the colony, one of whom earns Rs.2,000 as a valve operator
responsible for releasing water to the colony.
Mangan and his fellow residents of Gora want five acres of land
for each adult, in compensation for what their families surrendered
to the government. In short, they demand Project Affected Persons
Not all colony affected people are as adamant about being compensated
only in terms of land. But all are against the package that the
government is offering: (i) Rs.36,000 in cash (ii) jobs in the
colony and (iii) residential accommodation.
To begin with, the Rs.36,000 for one and all is inequitous: those
who lost five acres or 40 acres to the colony will be given the
same flat rate of Rs.36,000. Shankar Kuber of Kewadia (nichalya
phaliya) and his wife Jasu behn say that either they be compensated
for the 44 acres that their father left the three brothers, or
each adult in each family be given 5 acres. They are willing to
accept cash compensation at the current market rate of the land.
The residents of Gora, however, will not even accept the current
market rate since they maintain, unlike others, they have no cultivable
land and hence have nowhere to go. They want land, and nothing
less than that.
In fact, the NBA has filed a case on behalf of the colony affected
villagers. And thanks to its intervention the Gujarat government
has come up with the package of compensation. This was revised
in favour of the villagers in 1991 (The package mentioned above).
To an adivasi the government officials have been a source of harassment,
whether during the Mughal era, the British period, or since India
gained Independence. Whenever they have visited the tribal abode
in the remote fastness of the forest, or hills, they have looted
and despoiled. The adivasis have rarely gained anything from a
member of the government.
Hence the police camps that are located at each tribal hamlet
in the submergence zone is an affront to everything the adivasis
hold dear. They are subject to harassment now round the clock.
The government's position is that the police camps, which house
personnel from the health, irrigation, revenue and forest departments,
are there to rescue the villagers during submergence.
The Manibeli police camp's spokesman told us that they had provided
the residents with
* tyre tubes
* loud-speaker system
Apparently these are meant for the safety of the submergence zone
villagers. When we checked with the villagers, they said they
had not received any of the above.
The Dhankhedi police camp was on the land of Gimbia Ramji, one
of its residents, on top of a hill as it provides a good vantage
point to keep an eye on the village. Gimbia said he did not want
them there, they were an imposition, what could he do. And what
indeed can a poor tribal do against the might of the State?
At Chimalkheri and Sindoori, the team met policemen at the camps
who belonged not only to the Dhule police but the State Reserve
Police (SRP). The latter were certainly not there for "water
duty" as one of them flippantly described his assignment.
The wireless system in each camp is estensibly to enable the police
to perform its "rescue operation", but the facilities
at its command are invariably used to harass a hapless population
threatened with losing their source of livelihood; indeed even
their life. And in the meantime, the personnel of the police camps
in the forest interior impose on its resources, felling fuelwood
as and when they like, a facility that is denied the local population.
In towns like Kewadia, the heavy police presence makes nonsense
of a so-called free society. The team, on one occasion, counted
15 police vans at the ITI in Kewadia. In Vadgam and its environs,
where the police went apparently to take a record of the possessions
of its residents, the team encountered policemen swarming the
place, and they were not merely from the Gujarat Home Guards.
The bogus concern of the State is matched by the bogus list it
has recently prepared of tribals who are likely to go under. It
contains names of villagers whose huts are well above the submergence
level and mentions those who do not even reside in the village.
THE HUMAN RIGHTS OBSERVER TEAM RECOMMENDS
1. All police camps should be removed forthwith.
2. Canal affected and colony affected people ought to be accorded
Project Affected Person (PAP) status.
3. Land must be identified to rehabilitate all those who want
to shift from the submergence zone. This task should be given
4. All basic facilities need to be made available at the rehabilitation
site before the resettlers are moved to it.
5. The five acres of land given to each oustee must be transferred
in his name no sooner than he is in a position to cultivate it.
6. As far as possible the resettlers from one village should be
re-located at the same site.
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