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Narmada Oustees withdraw agitation ensuring land to be shown and Forest Rights granted
Narendra Ch | 20 Apr 2015

Fourth day of the agitation by 400 adivasis of the Satpuda mountain range from the Narmda river bank, was full of hectic discussion and filing affidavits after which it came to an end with full spirit and further steps declared. The decision to return back to Narmada came after the Div. Commissioner, Nasik agreed to a concrete program of showing land to Sardar Sarovar Oustees from all the 33 Dam affected villages in Maharashtra.

While a total of 661 hectares of lands available with the government in Maharashtra (202 hectares)  and Gujarat (441 hectares), the NBA has given its assessment showing that quite some part of the land offered may not be actually available due to prior encroachment by someother deprived commumi and some of it may be uncultivable or not suitable.

It is also obvious that not more than 30 oustees are willing to go to Gujarat and others have the legal right to resettle in their own state-Maharashtra; it is unlikely that the offered land would prove to be adequate.  Yet during four days dharna (sit-in), by hundreds of adivasis and supporters, the Commissioner and the Collector, Nandurbar, agreed to carry out a hectic schedule of village-wise program to show agricultural land after much debate, it was agreed that the same would be carried out before monsoon, and hence it was scheduled between April 28th to June 15th.

Lal Singh Vasave of  village Chimalkhedi  and Jalma Nukatya of village Manibeli planely conveyed to the Commissioner that they could not survive  without land and would die if evicted without land based rehabilitation. The NBA has also proposed to have an urgent meeting of planning committee which they are members of, so as to arrive at a total R&R plan locating new sources for land. 

 

Before withdrawing the agitation, the NBA posed challenge to the governments, the state and the center that if there is any further illegal submergence, beyond what has already occured then the people in the valley would face it through a Jansatyagrah. NBA has also decided to have land right satyagraha if the government fails to give land and continue offer cash against law and rehabilitation policy. It is noteworthy that the Maharashtra government since last few years has begun inciting the adivasi oustees to give up their right to land and accept the cash in liue of land. However, a large majority of oustees has rejected the offer and none who accpeted the offer has been able to purchase land.

 

The four days long agitation, by adivasis could also get decision and assurances from the Div. Commissioner, Mr.Eknath Davle and other officials as follows:

1.      1. The pending work related to implementation of FRA, 2006 in the affected villages would start at the earliest so as to include the forest land cultivators in the rehabilitation scheme.

2.       To restart the scheme of PDS at each Dam affected village by the Supply Food Department through Narmada river water transport.

3.                  Regular social audit on MGNREGA in selected villages in the valley and public hearing as per the Act, at the tehsil level.

4.                  The 8 dams planned as a Narmada Tapi  river link project on the 8 tributaries of Narmada, within Maharashtra get questioned by the adivasis. It was contented that when all the Gram Sabhas of the affected villages denied approval of the project, the government must preview the same.

 Concluding, the NBA reasserted that the adivasi would not bear any atrocity against them by taking away or destroying their naturral resources and denying them right to life by not ensuring resettlement and rehabilitation.

During the agitation, people condemn the decision of new government to amend the new land acquisition act thereby facilitating any and every project at the cost of agriculture and natural resource based communities. When the central government is claiming its willingness and readiness to rehabilitate people , the experience of Sardar Sarovar Oustees from Gujarat, Madhta Pradesh and Maharashtra is a test case for the development model propounded by the Modi govt.

With the Maharashtra agitation questioning the same, all the concerned governments as well as the citizenry to take cognizance of the massive destruction and displacement to occur in the Narmada valley, the oldest of the civilizations in the world. The oustees returned to the valley with some achievements as well as with challenge.