Saturday, June 24, 2017

Only 300-400 Narmada dam oustee families left out, they didn't want rehabilitation package: Govt of India minister

Gehlot
By Our Representative
Tempers ran high in Government of India minister Thavarchand Gehlot’s chamber on Friday, when top Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader Medha Patkar and her team met him to oppose the decision of to close down the Narmada dam’s 30-odd gates in Gujarat, which would allegedly displace to 40,000 dam oustees in Madhya Pradesh.
Countering the claim, Gehlot, social justice and empowerment minister, asserted that, according to the information he has received, just about 300-400 Narmada dam oustees need to be rehabilitated, but not account of the Madhya Pradesh government’s fault.
Contending these 300-400 people decided not to accept the rehabilitation package on their own volition, the minister continued saying, “everything has been completed”, when Patkar and her team pointed towards pathetic and unlivable condition of rehabilitation sites prepared to resettle oustee families.
Accompanying Patkar, the team – which included Vimal Bhai, Saumya Dutta, Himanshi Singh, and Ankita Agarwal – handed over a memorandum to the minister, which said even according to the Madhya Pradesh government’s own admission, the number of families to be rehabilitated were 18,346 of 141 villages and one town as on May 5, 2017, “while the actual number is double this number.”
During the meeting, in which social justice and empowerment secretary, Government of India, Latha Krishna Rau, was also present, Patkar asserted that the Dhar district collector had himself given directions that 6,132 oustee families should need to be “removed” from 76 villages by July 31, while the Badwani district collector was targeting 8,250 families of 57 villages. She wondered how the government could say that no one needs to be rehabilitated.
"So what if 8,000 families were affected? They have all been rehabilitated. Only 2-3 families are left out", senior Govt of India official
To this, Krishnarao replied, “You do not have the correct figures. So what if 8,000 families were affected? They have all been rehabilitated. Only 2-3 families are left out, they will all be rehabilitated by July 31”. She added, “Every facility has been given to the displaced families. Temples and mosques will be removed with people’s consent.”
An NBA demonstration in Delhi
against gates closure
When the senior bureaucrat continued with “tenders are out” for completing the work at the rehabilitation sites, Patkar shot back, “If tenders are out, when will the work at the rehabilitation sites begin? When will people get a respectable place to live in? And where did you get your information? Do you know 28,500 trees are being chopped and 25,000 cattle would be affected in eight villages alone? It seems you are being made the scapegoat.”
When the bureaucrat tried telling Patkar that the latter cannot talk like this sitting in the “honourable minister’s chamber”, well-known environmentalist Saumya Dutta told the official, “I have myself visited the valley for several times. I have personally talked with people. Thousands of people remain to be rehabilitated. You do not have seem to have the real picture with you.”
And when Vimal Bhai, social activist, asked the bureaucrat to provide a complete list of people who have been rehabilitated to ascertain whether the claim is correct, the official left the chamber, saying, “You can file a right to information (RTI) report. There is no point talking to you.”

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