Odisha: Displaced people from Hirakud Dam demand fulfillment of long-standing demands
“In a massive Rally today hundreds of Hirakud Dam displaced families from Jharsuguda, Sambalpur, Sundargarh, Bargarh and Sonepur under the Banner of Budi Anchal Sangram Samiti (BASS) protested at Lower PMG Chhak demanding fulfilment of their long pending demands.
In its memorandum submitted to the Chief Minister marking a copy to the Revenue Minister, Govt. of Odisha BASS has alleged that despite promises and subsequent orders and application for homestead land, the Govt. of Odisha has issued 10 decimal homestead land to displaced families Rengali and Jamimkera Tahasil of Sambalpur district and has failed to issue the same to displaced families of Jharsuguda and Sundargarh districts.
Sighting problems in the Office Order No.1734 of Dated 22.01.2014, the Outfit has asserted that since very few displaced families have the prescribed evidence of displacement like 4(1) notification and old Patta and many have lost them in course of time, recommendation of the concern Palli Sabha and Gram Sabha should be taken into account for the identification of displaced families and eligibility to get 10 decimal of Homestead land Patta. They have also demanded to expedite the survey and settlement of 34 un-surveyed villages lying above 632 R.L of the Hirakud Reservoir as per the decision taken in 2002 and in 2011.
Gopinath Majhi, the General Secretary of the BASS said “Early payment of Exgratia compensation @10.000 per acre should be made to displaced families of Jharsuguda, Sambalpur,Sundargarh districts as per the Office Resolution No.10930/R dated 11.03.1993.”Besides, they have demanded early payment to all 9913 Royats who have not paid compensation as per Govt. of Odisha River Valley Development Department Letter No.27/RVD dated 06.01.1965 and letter No 4522 dated 04.07.1956. Necessary action should be taken for the payment of unpaid compensation to the 320 Jhankar,Chaukidar and Nariha families and 6693 Royatfamilies at current market price of land, trees, wells etc.
The important Demands of the BASS are:
(i) Issue Royatpattato those families who have not yet issued RoyatPatta against their D.C.Pattas and demarcate the land who have issued D.C.Pattas.
(ii) Necessary steps should immediately be taken to give proper compensation and employment benefits to the DC Permission Holders whose D.C Permission land has been acquired by MCL and OPGC, Banharpali and alternative land should be given to the rest 97 cases whose D.C Permission land has been in Possession of Govt. Institution and others.
(iii) Land lying between 630 to 632 RL should be given on annual lease according to the principles as laid down for the same in 1966. Otherwise the status quo between 630 to 632 RL be maintained in the interest of law and order.
(iv) Strictly monitor the reservoir from pollution due to industrial effluents affecting fishing and livelihood of 11000 families who have settled themselves in the periphery of the Hirakud Dam during 1956-57.Besides, Basic facilities i.e. electricity, irrigation safe drinking water be provided to these villages.
Citing promises made by the then Revenue Minister Surya Narayan Patrain a number of review meetings in 2011 and 2012, the Outfit have condemned the Govt. of Odisha for consistently failing to fulfil the long pending demands of the Budi Anchal Sangram Samiti. The important leaders of BASS like Jogendra Majhi, Banikanta Singh, Dwarika Prasad Sa, Pardeshi Mirdha, Samarendra Bagar and Dayasagar Kumar etc. addressed the rally.” [i]
Hirakud Dam: A historical injustice
“THE HIRAKUD Dam (HD) in Orissa has the unique distinction of being the longest dam on earth. Built across the river Mahanadi, about 15 km upstream of Sambalpur, HD is the first post independence multi-purpose river valley project in India. It is intended for flood control irrigation and power generation. The foundation stone of the dam was laid by Sir Howthrone Lewis on March 15, 1946 and on January 13, 1957, Jawaharlal Nehru inaugurated the dam calling it the temple of modern India.
About 9,944 families, out of the 22,000 that were displaced under the Hirakud dam project, are yet to be rehabilitated and receive their due compensation by the Orissa government. Peoples discontent is coming out in rallies and protest marches.”
At the time of its construction, the project involved submergence of 240 villages with fertile agricultural land of about 42,000 hectares. The land-owing peasants were paid compensation in cash, which varied from Rs 50 to 200 per acre. Around 22,000 families were displaced by the project and their displacement and rehabilitation has been a major issue in Orissa politics since the 1950s. About 1.5 lakh people were affected by the Hirakud project.
According to a news report of 2008, “Since long, the government and administration have been making promises to look into the grievances of the displaced people but nothing has been done. Out of the 22,000 families, 12,700 families are scheduled caste (SC) and scheduled tribe (ST), and these were forcibly displaced,” said Laxmi Gudu. He further added, “so far 7000 families have been resettled in 17 rehabilitation camps and neighbouring villages. It is estimated that about 9,944 families have not yet been rehabilitated and not been paid their due compensation. Providing homestead land and resettlement including other facilities for the ousters is laying in the cold storage since long.”
The protests for fulfillment of their demands have been going on since last five decades. In 2008, “The Hirakhand Nagarik Parishad (HKNP), an elite organisation of Sambalpur town, made a representation to the President of India complaining against the supply of water to the industries. They also alleged that the dry part of the reservoir is being encroached upon by some industrialists, who have raised concrete cement structures. On October 26, 2006, the locals and farmers formed a 20 km long human chain, from one end of the dam to the other, to voice their protest against the decision of the state government. The people’s discontent has found expression through numerous rallies, protest marches and public discussion and meetings.” [ii]
Budi Anchal Sangram Samiti president Basudeba Bhoi in 2011 has said the government has only prepared a computerized list of 3,400 families to disburse compensation at a rate of Rs 10,000 per acre of their submerged land. His was one of the first 15 villages to have been submerged by the Hirakud reservoir. His family had 25 acres land. But they had received a compensation of just Rs 1,400 at Rs 200 per acre then, he said. “The samiti has threatened to gherao the Vidhan Sabha on Wednesday in support of their demands. On February 17 2011, the Sangram Samiti had sent a memorandum to the revenue minister demanding completion of the resettlement work of the Hirakud Dam oustees by providing resettlement land documents and speed up disbursal of compensation. A budget allocation of Rs one crore in 2008-09 for compensation to the displaced was yet to be released to them, the samiti wrote in the memorandum. In November, the Orissa government had invited proposal for declaration of 21 unsurveyed villages as revenue villages.”[iii]
In 2013, with rehabilitation and resettlement issues pertaining to people displaced by Hirakud Dam Project continuing to remain unsolved for over 50 years, hundreds of dam affected people from undivided Sambalpur district staged agitation in front of State Legislative Assembly here on Saturday. Villagers under the banner of Budi Anchal Sangram Samiti (BASS) were demanding fulfilment of all the promises made for rehabilitation and resettlement of around 26,561 families of 369 villages.
“So far as the payment of compensation is concerned, till date 9,944 displaced families had not been paid compensation. Due to our consistent struggle, State government had once decided to pay ex garatia to 3,540 families by sanctioning Rs. 2.66 crore in 1993. About 6,404 displaced families were left behind,” Mr. Bhoi pointed out. In absence of proper R&R Policy in the State during the period, private lands were acquired at throwaway price.
“The State government had promised to issue land titles to all the Hirakud Dam displaced families and to do joint survey of the unsurveyed villages in 2008, it had directed all the concern district Collectors to issue homestead land titles and pay all unpaid compensations to displaced families by June 30, 2012. All these promises have remained as promises and have never become a reality,” rued Gopinath Majhi, General Secretary of BASS.
BASS demanded immediate issue of 10 decimal homestead land titles to all displaced and affected families. Besides all the 34 unsurveyed villages located on the bank of Hirakud Reservoir should be converted into revenue villages.”[iv]
[i] Odisha: Hirakud Dam Displaced People Protested, February 29, 2016
[ii] Hirakud dam: Displaced families seek rehabilitation, 2008
[iii] Hirakud displaced families await compensation, March 2011
[iv] Hirakud dam displaced stage demonstration, August 2013
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