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Gujarat's 1,000 tribal Narmada dam oustees face eviction from rehab sites: Protest relay fast at Kevadia Colony

By Our Representative
With strong indications that nearly 1,000 Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP)-affected are being re-evicted by the Gujarat government, nearly 100 women and men have been on a 24-hour relay fast in front of the office of the Resettlement Office of Kevadia Colony, set up for building the Narmada dam.
The oustees are said to be upset, as the Gujarat government is said to have prepared a list of these 1,000 project affected families (PAFs), whose land would be taken back, claiming that they were given benefits "without eligibility".
This came to light after the state authorities began given notices to people of the Resettlement and Rehabilitation (R&R) site Sandola. Prominent social activist Medha Patkar-led Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), which is supporting the agitation, begun on July 15, has said, “The Gujarat government is not willing to resolve their problem, nor their grievance being redressed.”
Patkar, who joined the protesters on July 18, apprised a gathering at the spot of the protest relay fast about the huge gathering to take place at Badwani in Madhya Pradesh on July 30 in protest against closing the Narmada dam gates, which have been installed.
She said, the closure of the dam's gates, installed on the dam, would submerge a large number of villages in Madhya Pradesh. The Madhya Pradesh government is refusing to give land against land to rehabilitate them, she added.
Joined by hundreds of tribal oustees of the highly fertile Nimad region of Madhya Pradesh, the agitation is also for, according to an NBA communique, “raising the voice challenging the Gujarat government against unjust and unfair rehabilitation.”
NBA says, another problem that particulalry dogs tribals from 19 villages of Gujarat, whose land was “acquired in the 1980s, and were compelled to leave their villages, their environs and cultures, shifting to resettlement sites.”
“Their cutoff date of eligibility for all rehabilitation benefits is 1987, since their land was acquired in the 1980s. However, the cutoff date for those who have come from Madhya Pradesh is 2000 and beyond”, says NBA.
“This difference has caused people of Gujarat a lot of sufferings, whereby even 50 year old tribals have no right to any benefits of land and employment as per the rehabilitation policy. They demand that the cutoff date should be extended to 2002”, NBA underlines.
NBA claims, “The resettlement sites do not have basic amenities listed in the Narmada Water Distribution Tribunal (NWDT) award. Many of the resettlement sites are suffering from lack of drinking water. Some have no drainage system, others have no cemetery, grazing ground or pathways to fields.”
“The irrigation promised to every project affected family who has been allotted land as per the NWDT, endorsed by four judgements of the Supreme Court is yet to reach every site and every field”, NBA noted.
“While the Maharashtra government has at least taken a decision and begun to pay the amount for private tube wells to the oustees, the Gujarat government hasn’t done this, neither has it ensured drinking water supply to the oustees. They have also not received irrigation as per the legal provisions”, NBA noted.
“The agitation”,NBA says, “has found support by the people from six villages affected because of the land acquisition for the Kevadia Colony way back in 1961. Others who have joined in the protest include people from 70 villages that are affected by the new tourism project at the Narmada dam.”

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