Apathy marks rehab of Sardar Sarovar dam oustees: Study

  • Neeraj Santoshi, Hindustan Times, Bhopal
  • Updated: Aug 17, 2016 11:42 IST
The report emphasizes that the effects of under-provisioning the amenities will be more in the days to come. (Shankar Mourya/HT file)

Social and infrastructural apathy mark the rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R) of the oustees of the Sardar Sarovar Dam project in five districts of Madhya Pradesh, a study noted, and suggested solutions to the government to overcome the shortcomings.

Basic education, community halls, health centres, cattle troughs, drainage systems and farm godowns have been ignored in several pockets of Barwani, Khargone, Dhar, Alirajpur and Jhabua, according to a joint survey on 88 R&R sites by Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology (MANIT) here and IIT-Mumbai.

The two-volume report says primary schools have not been built at six R&R sites, overlooking basic education. No community hall-cum-panchayat bhawan has been constructed in 20 sites, while primarily health centres do not exist in 27 sites. Seed stores are missing at 26 sites.

The study recommends plantation work to improve environment, revaluation of executed works at the sites, restoration of damaged buildings and improved electrical infrastructure besides an environmental impact assessment study that includes the socio-economic aspects.

HT has a copy of the document, which is an annexure in the Justice SS Jha Commission report that was recently tabled in the state assembly. The eight-year-old panel, which probed alleged fake land registries and other issues related to the dam-project oustees, assigned IIT-Mumbai and MANIT Bhopal in 2011 to evaluate civic amenities and infrastructure at 88 the R& R sites.

The joint report says cattle troughs were not constructed at 28 R&R sites, “completely overlooking the fact that water is essential to the cattle and that the livestock constitutes an integral part of the lives of people in the rural context”.

Also, drainage systems have not been constructed across 50 R&R sites to the “extreme inconvenience” of people, the report said, seeking its construction across the region.

“Thus amenities seem to have been provided at random, varying from site to site,” the reports notes. “Such inequities in provisioning of infrastructure were apparently against the spirit of providing uniform access to amenities to oustees as envisaged in the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award.”

The report emphasizes that the effects of under-provisioning the amenities will be more in the days to come. For, only a fourth of the houses built or being constructed in the sites have been occupied. The below-requirement amenities will, inversely, hinder resettlement, it adds.

The Narmada Bachao Andolan said around 5% of the dam-affected people had moved to eight R&R sites of the five districts. “Rest are not moving in; they are not satisfied with the infrastructure,” NBA member from Dhar district said Devendra Singh, a Dhar district member of the 1989-founded human-rights movement. “The government should provide at least the basic amenities.”

The dam project is plagued by controversies for a quarter century owing to a series of changes in its final height with the aim of irrigating 18,000 sq km land in drought-prone Kutch and Saurashtra of neighbouring Gujarat.


Remove shortcomings in the infrastructure at rehabilitation sites

Extend drainage facilities to all sites

Go for plantation to improve overall environment

NVDA should reassess and revaluate all executed works at the sites, take corrective steps

Restore/repair all damaged buildings at the sites

Improve electrical infrastructure

Carry out environmental impact assessment study including the socio-economic aspects for the rehabilitation sites

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