Determined Ghogalgaon residents fight for survival; many mull suicide

  • Milind Lashkari and Sunil Kheralkar, Hindustan Times, Ghogalgaon (Khandwa)
  • Updated: May 01, 2015 17:10 IST

It is a grim fight for survival for the 96 farmers of Ghogalgaon as their hamlet is being slowly eaten up by the rising backwaters of the Omkareshwar dam.

Standing waist-deep in water to protest the alleged indifference of the government, it is the hope of getting land in lieu of their fast submerging farms that is keeping them alive.

All the farmers have returned half their compensation money and full special rehabilitation grant to Narmada Hydroelectric Development Corporation (NHDC) about 29-month back but still there is no sight of any land.

According to Alok Agarwal and Chitrupa Palit of Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), in May 2011 the Supreme Court had ruled that the authorities are obliged to allot land for land and a minimum of five acre in advance before the completion of the dam.

Instead, they received lesser amount in the name of compensation which was deposited in their bank accounts without their knowledge, they said.

Agarwal said that the Grievance Redressal Authority (GRA) had said in its orders that the rehabilitation policy has not been followed properly and the oustees of Omkareshwar dam should be given land in lieu of land.

The GRA had asked the farmers to surrender half of their compensation and full special rehabilitation grant to the authority and get land for land.

Following this, in December 2012, 96 farmers from Ghogalgaon surrendered their compensation money and the special grant to the NHDC.

The condition of many farmers worsened as they borrowed money from money lenders on high interest rate (2% monthly) hoping that they will get land at some other area.

But even after 29 months, the farmers are waiting for their land.One of farmer Jadhav, 32, who lost his 3.21 acre land in Ghogalgaon, said he got around Rs 1.88 lakh (Rs 60,000 per acre) as compensation.

"I am a farmer and have no other skills to feed my family but farming. Following the GRA directives, I surrendered all my compensation money to the authority hoping I will get land at some other place. But I am yet to get my land," Jadhav said.

"After losing my land, I’m working as daily wager in nearby towns to earn my bread and butter," he added.

Another 70-year-old Tarabai, who lost her nine-and-a-half-acre in the Omkareshwar dam backwaters, said that she surrendered Rs 6 lakh in December 2012 and is yet to get suitable land.

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