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Narmada dam affected adivasi commits suicide: Oustees' "depression" at new height over not getting land, rehab package

Medha Patkar
By Our Representative
In a gruesome incident, Tembhrya Kutarya, an adivasi of Chimalkhedi village, barely 10-odd km from from the prestigious Sardar Sarovar Dam on Narmada river, consumed poison and committed suicide. Situated across the border in Maharashtra, the news from the village, says prominent social activist Medha Patkar, "reveals the actual dire reality underlying the false tall claims of rehabilitation by the Maharashtra government."
Revealing the incident, Patkar has said, while the adivasi committed suicide on July 9, till late evening on July 10, the dead body was decaying on the banks of the river Narmada in the village Chimalkhedy, as the government is “still thinking” how to take MBBS doctor there to do postmortem.
A doctor appointed on the riverine dispensary on the irregular medical barge was in Kevadia colony, where the Narmada dam is situated, but was not aware of the incident, such is the indifference towards the Narmada dam oustees, Patkar has alleged. Worse, he is not permitted to do postmortem, since he is BAMS, not MBBS.
"When the dead body was decaying, the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam is being raised by 17 meters to 139 meters submerging several villages and thousands of adivasis. Only future will decide how many more may have to commit suicide as 2.5 lakhs people in the submergence area are being sacrificed", Patkar has alleged.
In a statement in the wake of the suicide, the National Alliance of People's Movements ((NAPM), apex body of tens of rights based organizations, has said the "story of Tembhrya Kutarya tells a lot. For the last 30 years, thanks to the Narmada Bachao Andolan's efforts, 11,000 families in Gujarat and Maharashtra have been giving land for land", even as compelling Madhya Pradesh government "to prepare rehabilitation sites."
"As of today there are 1,200 families in Maharashtra and 5,000 families in Madhya Pradesh who are yet to get land rights. Tembhrya Kutarya was one of those", NAPM said, giving details of how Tembhrya Kutarya failed to be rehabilitated. The simple reason was, Tembhrya’s name was misspelled; and despite repeated pleas "the government did not corrected the records." Worse, though he had land, he was "listing as landless."
Worse, "Tembhrya’s four sons were excluded too", the statement said, adding, he was also "not declared as landholder with joint landholding (with his brother) but was declared as adult son and was given only one hectare. Even this he could not actually obtain because only one of the four was given notice and the land is far away. Thus, he was not given his right to two hectares of land, nor were his sons given any land."
Pointing out that the claims of the adult sons were pending for last the last years, NAPM said, Tembhrya’s application for correction in his name was also sent to the Grievance Redressal Authority, formed by Supreme Court to look into the grievances of the Narmada oustees.
The authority did not take "any decision" on the matter, NAPM said, adding, sending back his application of Tembhrya’s sons to additional collector. All the four sons have now been labeled "non-eligible" because they could not show proofs like ration cards of 1987 and names in voting list. The land of this family was submerged since 2003.
"Frustrated over failing to get land, he ended his life by committing suicide. In fact this is the homicide of adivasis by the exploitative government system", NAPM has alleged, adding, the situation has reached a point that the Maharashtra government is stopped search for land for oustees is instead seeking to give cash instead.

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