Project-affected residents of Dabhil village are likely to move the Bombay high court in the next two weeks challenging the acquisition process for the proposed Sarambala medium irrigation project in Sawantwadi taluka of Sindhudurg.
Non-government organisation Vanashakti is also set to challenge the Rs184.73-crore irrigation project in the eco-senstive area, with the contention that the project is ill-conceived.
More than 150 hectares of forest land in Dabhil, along with homes, ancient temples and sacred groves fall under the submergence area of the project.
“The irrigation department has said the dam will be built on the Dabhil nullah (drain). How can a tributary of the Terekhol river be called a nullah,” questioned environmentalist Stalin D from Vanashakti. “The effect of blocking the Dabhil river on downstream villages has also not been documented.”
In April, Vanashkati had written to forest secretary Praveen Pardeshi raising objection to the Sarambala irrigation project inside a proposed wildlife corridor, and sought its cancellation. Pardeshi didn’t respond to phone calls or text messages from HT.
Project-affected villagers have not been accepting the repeated eviction notices issued by the collector’s office. “We don’t want the project. We don’t water for our fields. We don’t want to be forcibly evicted and relocated from out land,” said Balkrishna Gavas, a resident of Dabhil.
According to a reply under the Right to Information Act to Vanashakti, none of the residents of villages, who are deemed to benefit from the Sarambala project, have written to the irrigation department asking for water for agriculture or drinking purposes.
Moreover, while the project report has claimed no wild animals have been seen in the proposed submergence area, tiger pugmarks were spotted at Dabhil village last week.
The pugmarks were put in cast and sent to the Wildlife Institute of India in Dehradun.