A month after, no solution in sight to Ghogalgaon row

  • Ashutosh Shukla, Hindustan Times, Bhopal
  • Updated: May 12, 2015 17:22 IST

There appears to be no solution in sight to end the Jal Satyagraha at Khandwa even though the agitation has been continuing for over 30 days.

Neither the Madhya Pradesh government nor the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), which is spearheading the agitation, is ready to relent on their stand.

According to NBA, there are 350 to 400 families who have rejected cash compensation and are demanding land against their land submerged.

"Rule of natural justice as well as court verdicts on issues related to dam versus rehabilitation in Narmada valley clearly specify that water levels can’t be raised in a dam until all the affected people are rehabilitated. They have raised the water level in Omrakeshwar dam from 189 metres to 191 metres without rehabilitating them," said NBA leader Alok Agrawal, who is also now the state president of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

The state government, on the other hand, refuses to back down on lowering the dam's water level in the 'greater interest of the farming community’ and further claims that the oustees are being offered land against land but they refuse to accept it as their objective appears to be something different than getting land against their submerged land.

The government’s figure of people, who have not accepted cash compensation and were demanding land, is 213.

Following minister of state for Narmada Valley Development Lal Singh Arya’s statement on Saturday exhorting the agitating oustees to accept the land they are being offered and call off the agitation, principal secretary of the department Rajneesh Vaishya also said the same thing on Monday.

On the other hand, Agrawal said there was no question of accepting the land being offered to the osutees as ‘they are barren, uncultivable and in most cases encroached’.

"We were shown land in Narsinghpur on May 9. There were deep trenches in the land, it was barren and major portions of it were under illegal encroachment. They showed land in Pandhana on Sunday. It was also encroached. People have been living there for 66 years," said Agrawal.

Both Vaishya and Arya, however, contested the claim that oustees were being offered barren, encroached land and said the piece of land shown to them was perfectly cultivable.

State Congress chief and ex-MP from Khandwa, Arun Yadav, when asked about Congress party’s stand on the jal satyagarha said that every oustee should be properly rehabilitated and their demands met.

"Why doesn’t the CM talk to them or the sitting MP from Khandwa Nand Kumar Singh Chauhan, takes initiative to settle the issue? Chauhan rather called the jal satyagrah ‘theatrics’. It only shows the BJP’s attitude towards poor farmers," he said.

Chauhan, whose earlier statement describing the jal satyagrahis as staging 'drama' had drawn flak from his political opponents was not available for comments as the person who attended call over his mobile said that he was in parliament right from the morning.

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