#India #Chhattisgarh, a lifeline gone without trace #Tribal #Indigenous #aboriginal

Rogda (Chhattisgarh), October 24, 2012

In Chhattisgarh, a lifeline gone without trace

Suvojit Bagchi, The Hindu , Oct 24,2012

  • The Rogda water reservoir site. Photo : Special Arrangement
    The Rogda water reservoir site. Photo : Special Arrangement
  • Ramkhilaon, a construction worker at the dam in the 50s, says those who never used water from the reservoir have decided its fate.
    Special Arrangement Ramkhilaon, a construction worker at the dam in the 50s, says those who never used water from the reservoir have decided its fate.

Legislative Assembly panel gives clean chit for transfer of Rogda reservoir land to private power company

While there is an outcry in Maharashtra over disappearing irrigation water, in Chhattisgarh, an entire reservoir — the lifeline of four villages — has vanished. The 131-acre rain-fed reservoir has been leased out by the government to a private power company.

However, an Assembly committee, recently constituted to investigate the ‘transfer’ of the reservoir, in its 3:2 majority report, did not find anything wrong with the deal. But a map by Google and the testimony of several villagers are evidence enough to prove that the reservoir was indeed located at Rogda, a small village on the southwestern side of Janjgir-Champa, the most irrigated district of Chhattisgarh, even a few years ago.

Rogda, like most other villages of Janjgir-Champa, produced two or more crops till recently with water obtained from the reservoir. The villagers of Rogda and adjoining Nariyera, Amora and Tarod used its water also for drinking and other household activities. In fact, the Assembly panel states the government acquired 130.54 acres of land from three villages to construct the reservoir in 1954 during the first Five-Year Plan. But the committee has concluded that the decision to transfer the Rogda reservoir by the Water Resources and Revenue Department was “correct”.

In 2008, more than 207 hectares of well irrigated government land, of which the reservoir was part, was allotted to the KSK Mahanadi Power Project for a little over Rs. 18 crore to build a 3,600-MW unit.

“We found out that Rogda water was not used for irrigation,” Dipak Kumar Patel, a BJP member on the committee, told The Hindu. Its report was based on district-level, fact-finding reports which indicated that Rogda land was “mostly fallow,” he said.

“It is ridiculous,” shouted 70-year-old Ramkhilaon of Rogda, who was employed in the 1950s as a daily wage worker to construct the reservoir. “Those who never used the reservoir or even saw it have decided its fate,” he lamented.

Soon after acquiring the land, KSK Mahanadi filled up the reservoir. In its place, now stand giant metal structures which are busy grinding stone chips.

“The committee could not locate any reservoir as KSK promptly filled it up,” said Md. Akbar, who along with the other Congress member, opposed the report’s findings. But the other three, all from the ruling BJP, ensured its passage.

In leasing out the main water source of several panchayats, the Chhattisgarh government has also flouted the Supreme Court verdict of 2011 that says community ponds cannot be used for commercial purposes. “The time has come when these malpractices must stop,” the judgment said.

This correspondent witnessed large tracts of land with paddy, not less than a few hundred acres, at Rogda turning brown for lack of water. Farmers have started migrating to other villages in search of cultivable land.

Meanwhile, the power company has planted several trees in the vicinity in order to create a ‘green belt’ in accordance with environmental guidelines.


Proposal to ban SEZ on tribal land, farms

English: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodha...

English: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at the ITC Green Centre in Gurgaon, outside of New Delhi. The ITC Green Centre is the world’s largest “Platinum Rated” green office building. Department photo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


New Delhi, June 26: A ban has been proposed on the setting up of special economic zones (SEZ) on land in tribal areas and agricultural land.

A meeting today between rural development minister Jairam Ramesh and unofficial members of the National Council of Land Reforms (NCLR) also suggested that homeless rural people should be given homestead land.

These issues will be on the agenda at a full meeting of the NCLR headed by the Prime Minister. The council members include five cabinet ministers, chief ministers of 10 states, including Bengal, and a few unofficial members who are experts on land reforms.

The council, set up in January 2008, has never met in four years. It is supposed to lay down guidelines on land reforms based on the recommendations of the committee on state agrarian relations and unfinished task of land reforms, headed by Ramesh

The committee has studied inequality in availability of land and its impact on the economic condition of people. It submitted its report in September 2009.

The NCLR and the committee were set up after the Ekata Parishad, an organisation working for land reforms, organised a march by landless people in January 2008.

P.V. Rajagopal, the parishad president and an NCLR member, claimed the Centre was not giving desired importance to land reforms.

“The unofficial members of the NCLR had a meeting with the rural development minister today. But it is unclear when the full NCLR meeting will be held. The government is dragging its feet on the issue of land reforms because corporate houses are demanding land,” he claimed.

The meeting finalised a few issues for discussion at the full council meeting, including a proposal to ban SEZs in scheduled areas and areas predominantly inhabited by tribal people, and restriction on transfer of common property and agricultural land in other areas for such zones.

Massive transfers of agricultural and forest land for industrial, mining or infrastructure projects have led to rural unrest and distress migration.

According to the report of the committee on state agrarian relations, about 7,50,000 acres have been transferred for mining and 2,50,000 acres for industrial purposes in the last two decades.

SEZs have mostly focused on prime agricultural land, causing misery to poor peasants, the report said. Large chunks of land have been degraded because of industrial waste and effluents. Unplanned urbanisation has frequently resulted in illegal grabbing of significant chunks of agricultural and common land.

“We have discussed the major issues on land reforms. I have asked the unofficial members to give their feedback by Sunday. Once I get their comments, they would be submitted to the Prime Minister for further discussion in the NCLR meeting,” Ramesh said.

Jharkhand- 300 tribal children march to Raj Bhavan to save their Land

Children’s plea to Governor: Don’t take our land to build IIM


By Newzfirst Correspondent5/8/12

RANCHI – More than three hundreds of tribal children today marched to the Raj Bhavan demanding immediate intervention to stop the ongoing forceful land acquisition by state government to build the Indian Institute of Management and National University for Study and Research in Law (NUSRL) campuses.

The march has come out as the part of Kakenagri villagers struggle to save their fertile agricultural land that is being acquired forcefully by government of Jharkhand to build Indian Institute of Management and National University for Study and Research in Law (NUSRL) campuses.

Children of age 5 to 13 years belonging to the victim families in their hand-written memorandum to the Governor appealed, “We the small children of Kakenagri village are very much worried to see our parents struggling to protect the agricultural land. It is being taken away forcefully from them at the gun point.  Lands are source of livelihood for us. Because of this land they are able to feed us and able to send us to schools. We request you to kindly stop the acquisition.”

Read more here



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