|Medha Patkar with PAFs at NVDA office, Indore|
The Madhya Pradesh (MP) government has issued a controversial notice to hundreds of project affected families (PAFs) of Gujarat's Narmada dam, belonging to tens of villages of Badwani and Dhar districts of MP, stating that, since they haven’t accepted the land allocated to them by the Land Bank, their “eligibility for alternative agricultural land has exhausted.”
Issues by MP's rehabilitation officer of the Narmada Valley Development Authority (NVDA), the notice, quoted by the anti-dam Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), states that if the PAFs do not collect compensation in lieu of the land “within 2-4 days” (i.e. by December 30, 2016), which is up to Rs 3 lakh, they would be deemed as rehabilitated, and the amount would be deposited with the Revenue Department.
According to NBA, PAFs were given the first installment of Rs 2.79 lakh years ago on rejecting the "poor quality" land they were offered years ago, while they have been offered “balance amount” of Rs 2.50 lakh now.
Questioning the compensation amount, asks NBA, “The cost of 5 acres irrigated land at present is estimated to be between Rs 50 lakh-2 crore. If land can be bought for Rs 2.50-3 lakh, then why doesn’t the authority buy it itself and then allocate it?”
NBA quotes an honorary member of the Grievances Redressal Authority (GRA), which has been hearing the plea against such little compensation, as saying, “Where will we provide the land from? It has become so expensive. If you can’t buy the land, then buy a tractor with that money. You won’t get land even in ten years.”
Wonders NBA, “Without hearing and without any order from GRA, how can NVDA or GRA take any decision? Does depositing the amount in revenue exchequer mean ensuring rehabilitation with land and/or livelihood? This move is an absolute violation of law the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award (NWDTA) as well as judgments of the High Court of MP and the Apex Court.”
NBA claims, PAFs were offered land that was “totally uncultivable, rocky, hilly or encroached since years”, hence they “rejected the same”. Worse, “in many cases, they were never informed of the land offer mentioned in the notices issued to hundreds during the last few days.”
Considering this fraudulent, Mayaram, son of Sukya, Village Pichhodi, Badwani district has filed a case against the rehabilitation officials for conspiring to violate the right to land of the tribals, “which is a crime under sections 3, 4, 5 of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989”, says NBA.
Sumanbai of Pichhodi village is all set to take up the matter similarly. Referring to a notice he received from a rehabilitation officer, she says, he received a notice stating that he had denied the land allocated to her by the land bank, hence “she must collect her second installment within the stipulated date.”
Adds Kalabai she never received the notice of a plot being allotted to her, yet recently received the notice of collecting her second installment as her eligibility for allocated land has exhausted due to her non-acceptance of the same.
Meanwhile, hundreds of PAFs, under NBA leader Medha Patkar, gathered in front of NVDA’s rehabilitation office in Indore on December 30, questioning the the rehabilitation officer, MP, seeking an explanation why were such “fraudulent, threatening notices” were being issued and under whose instructions.
“He admitted that it was done under the oral instructions from the Commissioner (NVDA)”, claims NBA.