Khargone Protest: Villagers displaced due to Kharak dam demand compensation; protest at collectorate continues
In Madhya Pradesh’s Khargone, hundreds of villagers displaced by the construction of Kharak dam continue to demonstrate outside the District Collectorate’s office. They demand compensation for the loss of their lands in adherence to the Supreme Court order of 2017. Details here
गाँव कनेक्शन 15 Sep 2023 9:03 AM GMT
Yesterday, on September 14, hundreds of tribal villagers continued to protest outside the District Collectorate in Madhya Pradesh’s Khargone. The protesters demand compensation for the loss of their lands due to the construction of Kharak dam.
The protest is spearheaded by a tribal rights group named Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan. It underlined that the Supreme Court order of 2017 which demanded the Madhya Pradesh government to compensate the villagers displaced by the construction of the dam is not being followed.
“Against the spirit of the Supreme Court order, the state government has formed an Appellate Forum that has paid only half of the compensation amount to 129 tribal families. Another 128 such families have not received a single rupee as compensation,” Balram Solanki, a senior functionary of the tribal rights group, told Gaon Connection.
Solanki further stated that the protesters’ single biggest demand is an assurance by the District Collector that the displaced villagers shall be compensated within a fixed time frame of a month.
“Compensation amount worth Rs 12 crore is yet to be dispersed amongst the poor tribal families who have been uprooted from their lands and are forced to live as nomads for the last 10 years now,” Solanki asserted.
A press statement issued by the tribal rights group stated that a total of 370 families were displaced during the land acquisition process of the Kharak dam. The dam’s construction was completed in 2015. It is built on the Kharak river that passes through Barwani and Khargone districts.
Shivram Kanase, a signatory in the press release, was quoted as saying that the displacement due to the dam has caused hundreds of tribal residents to migrate to the neighbouring states of Gujarat and Maharashtra.
“This is an anti-tribal government. Had they compensated us for our lands, our brethren would have not been forced to work as labourers in Maharashtra and Gujarat. Their children would have studied here in Madhya Pradesh,” Kanase was quoted.
He further stated that several attempts were made by the district officials to cut a deal and break through the protests.
“But we are not here for flimsy assurances. Until we get the rightful compensation for our lands, this sit in protest shall continue unhindered. The tribal people are fully aware now and have lost patience,” Kanase was quoted.
“We would not let the government run a tyranny,” he added.
According to Land Conflict Watch, in July 2012, some people from the villages of Juna Bilwa, Kaniapani and Choukhand were forced to accept a paltry compensation of Rs 40,000 per acre as opposed to the district collector's guidelines, which fixed the compensation amount at Rs 1.6 lakh for non cultivable land and Rs 3.20 lakh for irrigated land. The farmers were informed that they would be paid compensation in three instalments, and they were threatened with imprisonment until the project's completion if they protested.
Meanwhile, residents of four other affected villages in Barwani district Kamat, Kaniapani, Julwania and Muvasia were denied compensation, notes Land Conflict Watch.
Residents of all the affected villages in both the districts have been demanding rehabilitation since 2012 under the Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan. The construction of the dam displaced more than 300 families in the two districts, with some agricultural fields submerging under the water released from the dam.
The matter was pushed to the Madhya Pradesh high court, which ordered rehabilitation in July 2016.
In January 2017, the Supreme Court also categorically ordered that the displaced people be rehabilitated under the provisions of the Madhya Pradesh Rehabilitation Policy of 2002 and the resettlement and rehabilitation policy of 2008 under the Narmada Valley Development Authority. However, no compensation has been paid yet, notes Land Conflict Watch.
With inputs from Danish Iqbal.