#Maharashtra – Displaced and damned for a generation


Date: 18 February 2013

Koynanagar (Maharashtra), February 15, 2013, The Hindu

Displaced and damned for a generation

Alok Deshpande

A view of the Koyna dam. File photo
PTI A view of the Koyna dam. File photo

First, a dam, then an earthquake and finally a tiger reserve — families in Satara district’s Koyna have been displaced thrice in one generation. In 1960, the people had to move, paving the way for the Koyna dam; in 1967 following the earthquake and then for the Koyna tiger reserve in 1985, says Jagannath Vibhute, an activist of the Shramik Mukti Dal and one of the many farmers displaced by dam projects.

According to him, the people who did not want to leave the area shifted to higher areas to be safe from the dam waters.

“But later the area was announced as the tiger reserve, so they had to relocate themselves again.” Representatives of around 27,000 displaced families in Satara have been on an indefinite Thiyya Andolan (sit-in agitation) at Koynanagar — the site of the first major dam in Maharashtra post-independence, constructed in 1960. Of the 10,000-odd families displaced by this project, as many as 1,500 are yet to be rehabilitated even as around 1,000 have bought new land on their own rather than rely on a red tape-hit bureaucracy. Incidentally, Satara is the home district of Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan.

Daji Shelar of Shirsingi in Ajara taluk was asked to vacate his village in 1985 because it fell within the proposed tiger reserve. He moved to Sangli district, where “we had to build our home at our own expense. We did not get any of the allowances sanctioned by the government. We are yet to get the promised land from the government.”

Some of the project-affected people who were given land in the forest areas of Thane district cannot make the transition due to opposition from tribals there. After the notification of the tiger reserve, the Forest Department slapped restrictions on the locals, who had been living on forest land for generations.

“It has become difficult for our women to even collect fuel wood for daily use. The department has stopped construction of the only road which connects villages inside the forest area,” said Sitaram Jangam of Waghavale village.

“There was no need to evict locals, as they used to stay in the forest area. Rather, they were the ones who protected the forest for so many years even before it was announced as the forest. They could have helped the government save and protect the forest,” said Mr. Vibhute.

The agitation is not limited to Satara district. Similar sit-ins are in progress at eight more places in Maharashtra, including Kolhapur, Sangli and Ratnagiri.

Around one lakh affected people have contributed to the Thiyya Andolan, which began last week under the leadership of the Shramik Mukti Dal.

Tukaram Mohite, 72, from Umarkanchan, which was displaced for the Wang Dam in the Patan tehsil of Satara district, laments that people do not want to marry off their daughters to young men from his village.

“We are the displaced ones. The land which some of us received from the government is in an arid area, unlike the irrigated land we had earlier. Some did not get any land. Would you want your daughter to marry a landless farmer’s son or someone who does not have irrigated land?” he asked narrating his plight to fellow farmers. The dam, built in 1996-97, displaced 1,800 such families from nine villages.

With a command area spread over 8,000 hectares in two districts, the dam has opened the door to prosperity to many, but the displaced are still fighting for rehabilitation.

“From a high rainfall area, we were thrown into dry areas. What was given to some of us was waste land in the place of the fertile land we earlier had. We having been displaced from one village, the other village never welcomes us. The government has accepted our demands two years ago, but there is no action on the ground,” said Mr. Vibhute.

At a meeting on May 15, 2012 with Bharat Patankar, president of the Shramik Mukti Dal, the Chief Minister accepted all demands of the project-affected people and even set a three-month time frame for action.

But none of the promises has been met and the farmers will agitate until a government resolution is published resolving their problems. Ironically, similar promises were made by the government at an earlier meeting too, on May 5, 2011.

Chavan promises action

At the end of a meeting held here on Wednesday, Mr. Chavan promised Mr. Patankar’s group that a resolution would be issued in the next 15 days.

The major demands are equal rights for women on land, independent gram panchayats for all new settlements which have 500 or more population, issue of BPL ration cards to all project-affected families and allotment of grazing land (gairan) for rehabilitation in case no other land is available.

Mr. Patankar said the recommendations of the government-appointed committee, released eight months ago, for improving the Rehabilitation Act must be accepted immediately.

 

Maharashtra Displaced families stage state-wide Dharna against Koyna Dam


Mumbai, Feb 10, 2013, DHNS:

Thousands of dam evictees and project-affected people (PAP) continued their round-the-clock picketing, called Tiyya Andolan, in the interiors of seven districts of Maharashtra demanding the implementation of their long-pending demands.

The protests have been going on since last Monday, in Satara, Sangli, Kolhapur, Solapur, Aurangabad, Raigad and Pune.

Speaking to Deccan Herald from Satara where dharna is going on against the Koyna dam, Jagannath Vibhute of Shramik Mukti Dal (SMD) which is spearheading the state-wide Tiyya Andolan, said: “The state government has sent a message after six days that they will take up the issue of displaced families, people and PAP in the Cabinet meeting to be held this week.

Take for example in Satara where nearly 27,000 families have gathered in Koyna Nagar, around the Koyna Dam, the first major man-made reservoir in post-independence Mahrashtra. Thousands of families were displaced in 1960 and several thousands continue to remain in rootless condition.

They have no place to go. They have become homeless in their own homeland.”
Giving details of other places where the picketing is going on simultaneously, Vibhute said on the border of Sangli and Kolhapur districts, around 500 representatives of dam evictees are carrying out Tiyya Andolan near the base of the Warna Dam.

Similar protests are also being carried out near the Gad Nadi Dam in Ratnagiri district, Teen Vira Dam in Raigad district, Tembhapuri Dam in Aurangabad district and Dhamani Dam in Kolhapur district. Affected people in Azra Tehsil (Kolhapur) and at Pandharpur in Solapur district.

The basic demands of the agitators are: Giving equal rights to the daughters in ancestral property of PAP families, independent status to Gram Panchayat (with 500 or more population), free vocational training, below poverty-line ration cards; disbursing of funds to women self-help groups; grazing land (gairan) for PAP rehabilitation and absorption of Tiger Project PAP families in forest development programmes.

Interestingly, these policy-level demands have been twice sanctioned in the meetings held by Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan in 2011 and 2012; but the government for some strange reason has failed to implement it.

According to Vibhute: “Eight months ago the committee appointed by government to look into the issue submitted its recommendations…but the response of the state is just unfathomable. It just refuses to look at the anguish of the people.”

 

PRESS RELEASE- Koyna Dam Project Affected Peoples’ Indefinite Movement in Maharashtra #mustshare


Today [Thursday, February 6] is the third day of the state-wide indefinite
sit-in movement Of dam evictees and project-affected people going on in
seven districts of Maharashtra. It might spread more, to several more
districts. The movement is led by Shramik Mukti Dal. More than l lakh
people are involved in this movement. People are sitting day and night
without caring for the heat of the afternoon sun or the cold of the night.
Most of the people are sitting nearby the major and some minor dams of
Maharashtra.

Satara district, which has the maximum number of project-affected people
compared to any district of Maharashtra, 27,000 families, is mobilized
nearby the first major dam of post-independence Maharashtra, Koyna dam.
This produces the major chunk of hydro-electric power; if it is withdrawn
from the grid all industries in Maharashtra and the domestic supply would
stop and there would be a collapse of the national grid. Of around 10,000
families which were displaced around 1960, 1500 families remain to be
rehabilitated. This is the sacrificial effect of the so-called development
implemented by the Maharashtra government. A couple thousand
representatives, men and women, are doing a sit-in or Tiiyya andolan at
Koynanagar.

Another major dam where people are doing a Tiyya andolan is Warna dam which
is on the border of Sangli and Kolhapur districts. Around 500
representatives of the dam evictees and Tiger Project evictees are doing
the Tiyya andolan near the base of this dam in the Hutatma Smarak — the
memorial to the martyrs of 1942 of Mangur village in Sangli district.

People are also doing a Tiyya andolan near Gad Nadi dam in Ratnagiri
district, Teen Vira dam in Raigad district, and Tembhapuri dam in
Aurangabad district. Also, they are doing a Tiyya andolan at Azra tehsil
of Kolhapur district and at Pandharpur in Solapur district. Also in Dhamani
dam in Kolhapur district an andolan is People are determined that they will
not go home unless and until the government begins the implementation of
their policy-level demand, twice-sanctioned in the proceedings of the
meetings with Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on 5 May 2011 and 15 May
2012, that (a) considering sisters as having equal rights in ancestral
property, they should be treated as independent PAPs (project-affected
persons) like brothers; (b) all the new settlements which have 500 or more
population should be given independent gram panchayats by a special GR for
PAPs; (c) starting free vocational training for sons and daughters of PAPs
so that they will get assured employment in industries by tying the program
with the various industrial houses; (d) below-poverty-line ration cards
will be given to all project affected families; (e) first priority will be
given in giving funds to start small-scale production for the women’s
self-help groups of the PAP families; (f) grazing lands (gairan) should be
allotted for the rehabilitation of PAPs where the land ceiling in the
benefited zones doesn’t yield sufficient land to be given to them; (g) a
special development program should be implemented for Tiger
Project-affected people, making them part of the development of the forest;
(h) increasing the house-building subsidy from Rs 10,000 per PAP to Rs
70,000 per PAP.

In addition, to this, (1) the government should accept the report given by
the government-appointed committee for improving the existing
rehabilitation act immediately. This committee has given this report 8
months ago. The president of Shramik Mukti Dal, Dr. Bharat Patankar, was a
member of this committee as a non-governmental person but the majority were
government officials. It will give more facilities for the benefit of PAPs
in Maharashtra. (2) Though the land district to the PAPs is called as
“land in the irrigated areas,” it is not given the benefit of irrigation
for years, at some places more than 50 years. Irrigation facilities should
be given immediiately or a livelihood allowance of a minimum of Rs 3000 per
month for making up the losses in a minimal way that PAPs have suffered
because of the difficulty of growing crops in non-irrigated land. (3) In
Raigad district where the water of Amba-khore project was to be given to
15,000 acres in the kharepat area, instead the water was diverted to
industries and being wasted for the last 35 years into the Arabian sea: now
because people’s movement has forced out various big power projects in the
area this water should be immediately given to the peoples’ land for
irrigation. Also, the land which was taken by the big industrial houses
from the farmers and not used for any development of industry for years
together should be given back to the farmers. The farmers have put forward
an alternative development plan for the area based on modern, renewable
energy-based technology; this should be accepted by the government instead
of implementation of the so-called “corridor businesses.” 15,000 acres of
land are forced to become saline and remain fallow for the last 25 years;
these should be again made cultivable in collaboration with the people and
Khar Land Development Board. (4) The Department of Rehabilitation and
Resettlement which is supposed to be distributing land to the PAPs has
itself obstructed the taking over of this land and distributing it. These
obstructions should be summarily removed.

Except for the letter of Krishna Khore Irrigation Minister Ramraje
Nimbalkar to the Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan for arranging a meeting
with Shramik Mukti Dal representing the movement, there is no response
whatsoever from the state government. It is the first time in the history
of Maharashtra that people have had to continuously struggle for two years
mainly for the implementation of already sanctioned demands. People say
that this government has become only a government giving slogans and
written sassurances but it is a non-working government in relation to
implementation of their own commitment. “This government is dead,” as far
as its implementation aspect is concerned. It is expected from the
discussion with the Chief Minister and deputy chief minister of Maharashtra
that they will respond to the movement and arrange a meeting and decide a
modus operandi for implementation of the policy decision. Now people are
not ready to become sacrificial goats in the ;yagna of political parties.

 

FOR MORE DETAILS CONTACT

) dr.prashant panhalkar — 9422032636
2) jagannath vibhute — 9423360174

Man marries thrice to deal with drought in Maharashtra, India #WTFnews


MARRYING FOR WATER: A 65-year-old Thane villager holds up a photograph of him with his three wives. He says he was forced to marry a third time to keep his family of 13 going through the drought. His first wife, he claimed, was ill and his second too weak to walk one-and-a-half to three km every day to fetch water. That duty’s fallen on Wife No. 3

Hit by drought, rural folks pour into Mumbai, Pune

Madhavi Rajadhyaksha TNN

Sangli/Satara: Open trailers packed with families and cattle have become a common sight along the state’s highways. They are a telling sign of the distress that the drought in 15 districts of the state has brought with it. Truckloads of villagers are migrating from the hinterland to cities like Mumbai, Pune and Kolhapur in desperate search for livelihood.
While many officials deny the drought-driven migration, the absence of male heads in rural homes in water-starved parts of the state reveals another reality. A senior official from Satara admits that the district has witnessed 10% more migration this year. Local officials say the low minimum wages of the Centre’s flagship employment guarantee scheme (NREGA) have failed to stem the outflow of potential job-seekers.
In Khatav taluka, Satara, fragmented families are a sorry reality in one home after another. Landowner Adhik Wagh (32) has taken a break from his driver’s job and is on a brief visit to his native village in Katgoon. “We used to have ksheti (fields) of our own and cattle too. With not a drop of rain this year, there is no ksheti or water to give the cattle. I work in Kolhapur as a driver and earn enough to educate my two children,” said Wagh who recently sold his buffalo.
Worse off are farm labourers like Mugathrao Wagh (65), whose work has dried up with the wasting away of successive crops. “My wife, daughter-in-law and I were all farm hands and would earn enough to feed ourselves. We are all sitting at home now, while my son does hamali (labour) in cities and brings home some money,” said Wagh. Sangli collector says many are choosing city over NREGA 
Sangli/Satara: Satara collector N Ramaswami maintained that migration is tough to estimate, admitting that it is “slightly higher than last year” in the light of a dry spell in the district. District-level surveys had shown that 2,000-3,000 more workers had left the district.
The desperation for jobs is no different in neighbouring Sangli. Dhanashree Gaikwad of Pangri village has been playing mother and father to her two toddlers ever since her husband left for the ‘city’ in search of work. “It is tough living apart, but we have no choice,” she says.
Sangli collector Shyam Wardhane said there was enough work for those who were willing, but admitted that villagers often did not opt for employment under NREGA as they thought minimum wages were too low. Ahmednagar collector Sanjeev Kumar also denied droughtdriven migration in his district, though locals stated otherwise.

, TNN | May 16, 2012,

THANE: A man has been forced to marry thrice to deal with the drought in villages here.

Sixty-five-year-old Ramchandra (name changed to protect identity), a resident of Dengalmal village, on a hilltop in Shahapur taluka, said his first wife was ill and cannot go far away to fetch water for the family of 13, while his second wife was weak.

Ramchandra’s family includes three sons, their wives and three grandsons; his three daughters have got married and now live with their husbands.

He said he first married when he was 20 and has six children from her. He married again as his first wife fell sick, hoping that she would take care of the household work. But as she was too weak and could not handle the workload, he went in for the third marriage 10 years back.

He justified his marriages, claiming that in a year, they faced a problem of water scarcity for six months in their village. They have to often traverse one and a half kilometres to a well in a nearby village, and sometime to the Bhatsa river three km away.

Villagers initially opposed his marriages as they suspected that he was doing it for sexual pleasure.

Hussain Shaikh, a villager, said, “Earlier, we opposed his move for a third marriage, but later we realized that whatever he has done was right, as his third wife now takes care of the family’s water arrangements.”

Sakri Shende, a 70-year-old woman from the village who spends nearly five hours in transporting water with her son’s wife, said, “We normally find Ramchandra’s third wife carrying water. Only when she falls sick, other family members come to the well for water.

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