Government gives in-principle approval to ascertain compensation based on the annual income of affected people
Residents in Maharashtra's Satara district who are affected by the Wang-Marathwadi dam have managed to get their major demands fulfilled after a protracted fight for rehabilitation rights. The villages in Patan tehsil had declared a jal satyagraha in mid-July and refused to budge from the dam's submergence area unless their demands were fulfilled. Now, the government has agreed to compensate the affected villages after conducting a survey. The residents, who are being helped by the National Alliance of People’s Movement (NAPM), met the state government authorities at Mumbai mantralaya on August 2. The activists forced the state government to convene a meeting with divisional commissioner at Pune on August 3 to get their demands fulfilled.
The state's rehabilitation department has ordered the divisional commissioner of Pune to investigate the allegations that the work on the dam was carried out without rehabilitation of project-affected people. The compensation will be paid to the villagers who suffered losses due to submergence after a survey. “The entire process would be completed within a month. A joint committee of project-affected people and government will carry out the survey,” said Suniti S R of NAPM.
The dam constructed on the Wang river near Marathwadi in Satara district has affected around 1,800 families of nine villages, of which four are completely submerged and five are partially submerged. “The work on dam continued without rehabilitation of the affected people; gorge filling, which was completed last week, resulted in flooding of villages upstream,” said Suniti. Following the flooding, NAPM launched an agitation, forcing the government to convene meeting of the project-affected people. Rehabilitation minister of Maharashtra, Patangrao Kadam, principal secretary for rehabilitation, Pravinsingh Pardeshi and other senior bureaucrats attended the meeting with Medha Patkar and other activists of NAPM.
“It was decided in the meeting that the divisional commissioner would investigate if gorge-filling was done without completing rehabilitation. A committee comprising four members, representing the state government and project-affected people, is to be formed to conduct the survey and investigate the matter,” said Suniti. The government has given in-principle approval to ascertain compensation based on the annual income of the affected people, she added.
The battle against the dam began in summer 2000 when Anil Shinde, a resident of Marathwadi, met Patkar and appealed to her to look into the matter. The first meeting of the project-affected people was called immediately and since then the residents have been fighting for their rights. “They finally got their rights after the meticulous efforts of over a decade. Since the government has agreed to fulfil our demands, we have called off the agitation,” said Suniti.
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