Odisha to give 10 decimals of homestead land to 2000 families displaced by Hirakud dam
Odisha government on Monday announced to provide homestead land to 2000 families in western Odisha district of Jharsuguda who were ousted from their homes for the multipurpose Hirakud dam project which was built over six decades ago in 1957.
While distributing smart health cards under Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana in Jharsuguda district on Monday, chief minister Naveen Patnaik said the state government will provide homestead land to nearly 2000 families displaced for the Hirakud project. “The decision will resolve the long-standing issue of these families,” said Patnaik.
Jharsuguda district collector Saroj Kumar Samal said work is already on to give homestead land, up to a maximum of 10 decimals, to around 2000 families of the district who lost their homes to the dam that was inaugurated by then PM Jawaharlal Nehru in January 1957. “Around 2700 families displaced by the dam in Jharsuguda are yet to be rehabilitated. In the next 7 days, we would start giving the RoR documents to around 2000 people. The rest 700 families would get the land in the coming few months as the process to establish their genealogy is taking time,” the collector said.
Built at a cost of a little over ₹100 crore, the multi-purpose Hirakud dam, with an overall length of 4.8 km across river Mahanadi, was constructed for flood control, irrigation and power generation. Though the dam managed to irrigate over 24280 hectares of farmland, 26,561 families of Sambalpur, Bargarh and Jharsuguda, Sundargarh and Sonepur districts were displaced from their homes in 1955-56 during construction of the dam.
So far 13,470 families have been rehabilitated and given compensation which in some cases ranged between ₹200 and ₹600 per acre, much lower than the market value back then. Despite people’s resistance, they were ousted with the assurance of immediate rehabilitation and adequate compensation. However, proper compensation and rehabilitation continued to elude them forcing the displaced people to move to different places to settle themselves.
Secretary of Hirakud Budi Anchal Sangram Samiti, an outfit fighting for the rights of the displaced people of Hirakud project, Gopinath Majhi said the government’s decision has come very late.
“Even those who received compensation for losing their homes did not receive compensation towards loss of trees, wells, temples and other damages. Farming was a major source of livelihood for the people prior to their displacement. In the present situation, the next generation doesn’t even possess the ownership of even a marginal piece of land for a sustainable source of livelihood. The dam oustees have been grossly neglected and deprived of their legitimate rights by the state government,” alleged Majhi.