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Dissatisfied 'Narmada Oustees' refused to withdraw agitation
Over 400 adivasis along with activists from Sardar Sarovar affected area in Maharashtra continued their mass agitation inside the Divisional Commissioner office at Nasik Road. The serious problems arising from the ongoing construction at the Sardar Sarovar Dam, to further raise the height by 17 meters of the dam, beyond 122 meters (i.e. upto 139 meters) is a challenge to the 30 years old Narmada Bachao Andolan.

On the second day of the agitation, oustees, yesterday, had dialogue for more than 8 hours with the Commissioner and other officers, on various issues, especially rehabilitation. "Where is the land?", "When can you take us to show it?" "When the deluge will occur this monsoon with 17 meters pillars? and may be, gates to be put up, how do you plan to rehabilitate hundreds of families in Maharashta before that ?" were some of the serious questions posed by the oustees present in the meeting with the Divisional Commissioner.

To the very question, which asked for the number of families remained to be rehabilitated, the Commissioner refused to give a number, claiming that the same was never final. When NBA activists and village leaders dissected the situation to show that there are hundreds, who are to be declared but not shown land and there are another hundreds whose lands are not acquired.

The Commissioner could only respond in brief about the availability of land, which he informed that there was 200 hectares of land in Maharashtra and 460 hectares in Gujarat, i.e. a total of 660 hectares of land to be shown. It was with much pressure and questioning that the Commissioner could provide a schedule of showing lands which will be starting from April 27th but that too without details. But in the end , the oustees found the assurance received to be vague and decided to continue with the Dharna until something concrete comes out.

Altogether, the detailed lists and agreements prove that not less than 1200 families who will have to be given 1 or 2 hectares of land each, would require a total land of 2500 hectares. That chart provided by us also brought out that how a few hundreds adivasis did not have their lands/houses acquired. Without land acquisitions, how had the government submerged their land, was another serious question posed.

There was also detailed discussion on the corruption, NREGA, PDS in rationing and also problem in rehabilitation sites. Various decisions such as Mid-Day meal to be tried for Jeevanshalas, social audit, Jansunwai at Tehsil level to be organized, enquiry into NREGA scams, restarting Gharponch  grain scheme etc.

Since the people felt they were cheated in the process, they refused to withdraw the agitation today. The dharna-sit-in, however, was shifted outside the Commissioner camp! The next step with the agitation will be declared soon.

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