Protests by tribal farmers may delay the city its share from the Kalu dam that is being planned near Murbad, about 90 km north of the city.
The residents of 18 villages stalled construction of the dam’s site office on Tuesday.
The dam over the river Kalu will be constructed between Murbad and Shahpur talukas in Thane district at a cost of Rs 1,373 crore and the capacity of the dam will be 900 million liters per day (MLD).
Far western suburbs such as Bhayander, Vasai and some part of Mumbai’s western suburbs are expected to get half the share from the Kalu dam’s total usable storage. The developers expect to complete the dam by 2014.
Subhash Gharat, who is leading the agitation, told Hindustan Times that the local farmers did not accept rehabilitation package. “The government is offering us just Rs 40,000-50,000 per hectare. In addition to this, tribal people will get Rs 10,000 for their houses.”
The dam will displace 15,000 residents, most of which belong to local tribes. “We are not skilled people. Our principal occupation is paddy farming. We will collectively lose 15,000 hectares of fields,” Gharat told Hindustan Times.
Bharatiya Janata Party legislator Sanjay Kelkar, who led a group of 1,500 farmers to the proposed site office, alleged that the government had not taken permission from the Union Environment and Forest Ministry.
“The dam will affect 1,000 hectares of forest land (in Thane district). The government has not interacted with the project-affected people.”
Thane Collector AL Jarhad denied the allegations. “Dam construction has not started yet. The contractor was making a temporary road to facilitate the office construction.”
Jarhad said the local tehsildar had stopped construction of site office because of the prevailing law and order situation. “The revenue department which is responsible for land acquisition is following all require procedures.”
MMRDA joint project director Dilip Kavathkar said the city’s water share from Kalu dam had not been decided yet. “But the city will definitely get its due share of water (from Kalu dam).”