The Himachal Pradesh government is likely to take up the half-century-old contentious issue related to the rehabilitation of the Maharana Partap Sagar (Pong) dam oustees with the Rajasthan government again.
To find out an amicable solution to the vexed issue, chief minister Virbhadra Singh on October 15 will have a meeting with Pong dam oustees wherein heads of various departments concerned will also be present.
The government is likely to have a relook at the tripartite agreement signed by the governments of Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and Pong dam oustees in 2008. Both the governments had then agreed to sign a memorandum of understanding to resolve the issue.
Under the agreement, the Himachal Pradesh government and the Pong Dam Visthapit Samiti had agreed to relinquish their claim on 29,700 bigha land in Sriganganagar district, which was allotted to oustees and later sold to local farmers.
The Rajasthan government had then consented to rehabilitate the left out oustees in the second phase. About 2,500 oustees had applied for land and their requests were forwarded to the Rajasthan government for its consideration. “Representatives of the Pong Dam Visthapit Samiti never signed on the agreement,” says Ashwani Sharma, senior vice-president of the Samiti.
The Rajasthan government had earmarked 2.20 lakh acres of land in Anupgarh tehsil and 30,000 in Jetsar farm in Ganganagar district. It had allotted 87,968 acres of land to 9,195 oustees up to 1977, but the most of this land was unfit for agrarian activities.
The construction of a reservoir in a village near Pong began in 1961. The dam project was conceived as part of a larger project, then known as the Rajasthan canal project (RCP). Later, it was rechristened as the Indira Gandhi Nahar Pariyoyajna.