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Paucity of land for Narmada dam oustees in Maharashtra: Adivasis agitate at Nashik

By Our Representative
The Narmada dam oustees' eight-hour long dialogue on April 16 with the Maharashtra government officials at Nashik around their rehabilitation has failed bear any fruit, with 400 adivasis deciding to continue their mass agitation at the Divisional Commissioner's office on Nasik Road. A Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) statement said, the dialogue was necessitated because of "serious problems" arising out of the continuing construction to raise the Narmada dam's height by 17 meters.
The dam height is currently stationary at 122 meters, and is being raised to 139 meters, which is the full reservoir level. Even as the dialogue was on with representatives of the protesting oustees, the adivasis kept up the pitch by shouting slogans like ‘’Where is the land?’’, and ‘’ When can you take us to show it?’’. "There was a general consensus among them that if there is a deluge this monsoon with 17 meters pillars, there is no plan to rehabilitate hundreds of families in Maharashtra", NBA said.
The NBA, which is leading the oustees' agitation, said in its statement, "To the question on the number of families remained to be rehabilitated, the commissioner refused to give any specific answer, claiming that the same was never final." On the other hand, "NBA activists and village leaders dissected the situation to show that there are hundreds, who have not been declared oustees, though land is going to be submerged."
The NBA said, "The commissioner could only respond in brief about the availability of land, which he informed that there was 200 hectares in Maharashtra and 460 hectares in Gujarat. It was with much pressure and questioning that the commissioner could provide a schedule of showing land which might be acquired for oustees' rehabilitation, but refused to give any assurance."
The NBA claimed, "The detailed lists and agreements prove that not less than 1,200 families would have be given 1 or 2 hectares of land each, and even these would require a total land of 2,500 hectares. Without land acquisitions, how could the government submerge their land?"
Other issues discussed during the meeting included corruption in the implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), public distribution system (PDS) in rationing and problems in rehabilitation sites, the NBA said. "As adivasis felt they were cheated, they refused to withdraw the agitation today. The dharna-sit-in was shifted outside the commissioner camp."

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