The Visthapit Mukti Vahini (VMV)
had its origins in protests against the
adverse environmental and social
impact of the Ichha and Chandil
dams in Bihar, in 1978. The latest
attack mounted on its members has
been the one on Arvind Anjum
because of his role in opposing the
Subarnarekha Multipurpose Project
(SMP). Anjum was reportedly
'taught a lesson' by Arvind Singh,
the Janata Dal-supported independant MLA (member of legislative
assembly) from Ichhagarh, Bihar.
The gory act, that nearly blinded Anjum, was not denied by Singh when an in dependant fact-finding team met him recently: However, Singh dismisses the incident as a mere 'clash' and has brazenly threatened to implement a fullscale attack that would disable the activist.
The SMP, conceived in 1973 at a cost of Rs 129 crore (the current cost has reportedly escalated to over Rs 2,500 crore), has remained controversial as it would displace over a lakh people in a predominantly tribal belt of Bihar and Orissa and submerge almost 30,000 ha of land. The SMP is projected to irrigate 2.551akh ha of land, apart from supplying water and controlling floods. But the World Bank has suspended aid to it as rehabilitation practices were found violating norms. The project is a fine example of the skewed, mega-dam-centred water policy of the government in an area where local and traditional water-harvesting systems could be tapped to meet needs. A number of rallies and public meetings have already been held, including the two in Chandil, on October 15 and November 7. The VMV and the Delhi Support Group, armed with the fact- finding report, is likely to lobby with the Union home and welfare ministers, the National Commission for Human Rights and the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
Meanwhile, the police have turned a 'blind eye' to the attack and failed to take action against the culprits.
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