Sunday, November 08, 2015

Gujarat's Narmada oustees begin protest dharna following eviction notice to 23 "resettled" families in Naswadi

Narmada dam oustees on protest dharna
By Our Representative
New facts have come to light suggesting that Gujarat’s Narmada dam oustees, who, it was claimed, had been given the best resettlement package than anywhere in India, are facing eviction. The result is, the oustees have begun protest moves at several places.
Following eviction notices to 23 tribal families from the original village Karda, resettled at Amroli in Naswadi taluka of the Chhotaudepur district, about 100 of the members of the families, including women, children and the elderly, have begun a protest fast.
The anti-dam organization Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), in touch with these tribals, said, “As the original villages were submerged because of the dam, many of these families were brought here two decades ago and were permitted by the Gujarat government to reside in and cultivate the lands. The same oustees are now being branded as encroachers and are being asked to quit.”
The officials who approached oustees told them that they would be given a “solace period” of 90 days, during which they would not be evicted, but they must get orders from the Grievances Redressal Authority (GRA), which is supposed to look into oustees’ complaints, within this period, said NBA.
Calling this an “unworkable approach, since the GRA sends back cases to the state agency meant for resettling Narmada oustees, Sardar Sarovar Punarvasahat Agency (SSPA), which itself takes 70 days”, the NBA said, among those on dharna include an 80-year-old man who also insisted to sit on fast. This elderly tribal fell very ill and had to be admitted to the hospital.
Earlier, the NBA said, 60 of women, children and elders were taken into custody at 7:30 pm on Saturday “as they remained firm on their demand that they be given a written assurance of not being evicted”, adding, “Oustees from Kevadia Colony, on whose land the Narmada dam is situated, also supported the struggling adivasis.”
The 80-year-old tribal who fell sick at dharna site
Calling the Gujarat government move to evict the Narmada dam outees patently unjust, the NBA claimed, “A list of more than 1,000 oustees has been prepared of those oustees whose names the officials claim are not found on the computer, and hence they should be ‘sent back’ to the original villages!”
The NBA said, “This list includes even those families who were rightfully declared as project affected families (PAFs) and there is no reason or justification to evict them. Moreover, their farms, houses in the original villages are either submerged or have been inaccessible, over the years.”
Pointing out that of the list of 1,000 as many as 281 families have already received eviction notice in the villages around Narmada dam, the NBA said, “ The people are furious not only because such a large number of families are threatened of eviction, but also because a large number of them are left landless and jobless in the age group of 30-45.”
NBA further said, “Many resettlement and rehabilitation (R&R) sites have no assured source of irrigation in the command areas and the rest are outside the command. There are PAFs who have received less land or land to be affected by canals again and others have claims to benefits as PAFs, but their cases are pending before the GRA.”

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