Promised land turns arid

Rajasthan fails to allot land to those displaced by Pong dam

By Ruhi Kandhari
Published: Sunday 31 October 2010

PEOPLE displaced by the Pong dam are still waiting to be rehabilitated, forty years after the dam was built. They were promised canal-irrigated land in Ganganagar district, but the Rajasthan government is now offering them semiarid land in Bikaner. The dam in Himachal Pradesh supplies water to Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.

Over 20,000 families in Himachal were displaced by the dam. “Of them 16,352 families were allotted land, but only 6,375 were given possession” Gulab Singh Thakur, revenue minister of Himachal Pradesh, said. In 1996, the Supreme Court had ordered the Rajasthan government to allot 1,100 hectares in Ganganagar to the remaining families. A committee was formed under secretary for water resources at the Centre to implement the order. The committee appointed an inter-state panel comprising officials and representatives of displaced people to identify eligible families.

At the first meeting of the committee on September 28, the Rajasthan government said it will provide land only to 2,505 families. It also made it clear that it could not allot the promised land as it has been encroached. It instead offered land in Bikaner. The displaced are unhappy and want the authorities to follow the apex court orders. “They are not allotting land to all displaced and now they are not even giving fertile land,” said Ashwin Kumar Awasthi, of Pong Baandh Vistapith Sangharsh Samiti, an organisation representing the displaced.

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