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This produces the major chunk of hydro-electric power; if it is withdrawn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

Koyna oustees face displacement again, thanks to Balganga project


Moreshwarwadi (Maharashtra), May 21, 2012

Meena Menon, The Hindu

Krishna Ganpat More and his family in Moreshwarwadi. Photo: Meena Menon
Krishna Ganpat More and his family in Moreshwarwadi. Photo: Meena Menon

Now we have to move again, but where to go, asks a resident

Krishna Ganpat More came to Pen taluka in 1969 in search of a home after his village was submerged by the Koyna hydroelectric project in Satara district. Little did he know that a few decades later he would face the prospect of leaving this settlement in Moreshwarwadi, which will be submerged by the Balganga river project.

Moreshwarwadi is small settlement of 13 houses on a height and all the families were displaced by the Koyna dam. Most of the people earn a living in Mumbai but More, a former police patil and some other families live here. “When the Koyna dam was built in 1960, we didn’t want to move, they offered us some land in Pandharpur but it was not suitable. I had 12 acres of land and the government paid me Rs. 120 for only three acres, at Rs. 40 an acre. I came here since some of my relatives were around and eight of us bought land as shareholders,” says More. He sold his wife’s jewellery to buy new land here and eight of them own about 29 acres and 22 ghuntas.

Land acquisition notices came for the second time in January to More and the others stating that the government plans to acquire their land for the Balganga project.

The experience of Koyna has left all the families embittered. “We got nothing from the government and we lost everything,” says Radhabai More. “Now we have to move again. Where we are going to move,” she asks. The Koyna project-affected people bought land here but things were not easy for them. There was a conflict between the local Katkaris and Thakurs amid allegations of land grabbing and it was a major issue in those days, according to local activists. Some of the land had to be returned to the tribals after protests.

The prospect of looking for a new home is daunting for the 69-year-old More and others. “The government must give us land for land. I will only go to heaven from here otherwise,” he says. The villagers have filed objections again to the notices of the land acquisition. Of the 307 families settled in this region from Koyna, 13 families in Moreshwarwadi and 75 families in Dawdani village will be displaced, clarified activist Surekha Dalvi.

While these families face a second displacement, landless tribals in Karoti too are worried about their future. Saduram Waghmare from Karoti says the entire village will be submerged. “I grow vegetables on the river bank and sell them for a living. Otherwise we work for daily wages at brick kilns. Most of us are tenant farmers and 80 per cent of the Katkaris in the village are landless,” he says.

The government has no plans to give land for land and there is a rehabilitation plan aimed at providing people with houses. Sandeeep Patil of the Shramik Kranti Sanghatana from Gagode (budruk) village says the government has sent notices to acquire about 13 hectares of private land for rehabilitation purposes in the village. Gagode village, the birthplace of Vinoba Bhave, is a gramdan village and under the Maharashtra Gramdan Act, 1964, land cannot be acquired from a village which is a designated gramdan village like Gagode. There are no individual rights to land here and it is a community resource, he points out.

The Konkan Irrigation Development Corporation (KIDC), which is executing the Balganga project, one of the 68 dams in the Konkan region, is under fire for unjustified cost escalations and for not having a proper rehabilitation plan in place, apart from not securing legal permissions to build a dam. Defending the cost escalation in Balganga, which is now pegged above Rs. 1,000 crore, a senior KIDC official said the cost increased because of controlled blasting at the dam site as opposed to open blasting, which was objected to by local people. Crucially, the flood value or the discharge from the river in a worst case scenario or a one-in-100-year flood was less as per calculations, when the project was first proposed. After the final design was submitted by the State-owned Central Designs Organisation at Nashik, the flood value had doubled and from four gates in the dam, an extra two gates had to be added, plus other features, which hiked the cost, he says.

Himanshu Thakkar of the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP) asks why the design was not properly done in the first phase. “The cost escalations are happening in so many dams around Mumbai and this looks like a scam. Most of the dams are being built by the same contractor and if these design calculations were done accurately in the first place, the project may have not been viable at the outset. Even mandatory clearances like in-principal approval from the Ministry of Environment and Forests have not been sought for some of these dams,” he pointed out.

While there is no transparency about the rehabilitation plan, the KIDC says 13 villages will be submerged by the Balganga project and the people will be resettled at seven places. Land acquisition for resettlement was under way at five places. The final award for the land was still pending, the official said. But he did not state what price would be paid per hectare to the farmers.

City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO), which is funding the dam, is yet to approve the cost increase from the initial Rs. 488 crore. However, the KIDC official clarified that the dam would not store water till the rehabilitation of villages was completed and so the proposed date of completion — 2014 could be altered accordingly.

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