SSP oustees gherao Union ministers
UNION MINISTERS Dr Saifuddin Soz, Meira Kumar and Prithviraj Chavan, who toured various rehabilitation sites of Sardar Sarovar Dam project today, had to face the ire of the dam affected, who bombarded them with a litany of complaints alleging failure of administration in rehabilitating them properly.Updated: Apr 08, 2006 11:54 IST
UNION MINISTERS Dr Saifuddin Soz, Meira Kumar and Prithviraj Chavan, who toured various rehabilitation sites of Sardar Sarovar Dam project today, had to face the ire of the dam affected, who bombarded them with a litany of complaints alleging failure of administration in rehabilitating them properly.
In many of these places the Narmada Bachao Anadolan (NBA) activists led the protestors an gheraoed them. One of them even removed the key of the car in which the ministers were travelling.
The three Union ministers were touring the area to assess the ground realities in the wake of hunger strike undertaken by NBA leader Medha Patkar in Delhi, who is alleging that rehabilitation work has been tardy and even now around 35,000 persons remained to be rehabilitated, therefore there was no justification in increasing the dam height from 110.64 metres to 122 metres.
At Khalbuzurg rehabilitation site near Khalghat, Dhar district, the three ministers stepped down to talk to a few elderly persons at the rehabilitation site.
The main complaint of the people here was that the land given to them was black cotton soil therefore all their ‘kutcha’ houses were sinking.
At Khalghat proper, they were surrounded by a large number of persons including Congressmen led by Anil Patidar. Most of the complaints related to inadequate compensation, delay in giving compensation and indifferent attitude of the government officials towards the plight of the sufferers.
The NBA activists were in full strength at the Dharmapuri rehabilitation site. They had hooked up a mike and pandal for the ‘reception’ of the ministers and gave them a torrid time. One of their main complaints was that the rehabilitation site was 11 km away, while government land was available around 5 km away.
Most of the speakers were aggressive and alleged that the government officials were feeding false information to the court and Central Government. The arguments became so heated at one point of time that the ministers got angry and walked away. But the NBA activists were one better and one of them took away the car keys of Saifuddin Soz’s vehicle, thus stranding
To show their anger, the activists banged the car in which the ministers were sitting and refused to let them pass. In the end a compromise was reached and four members were taken along with the minister who heard their complaints and allegations.
The situation was similar at village Kheri near Anjad, Barwani district. The people surrounded the minister’s car while the police barricaded the car to protect them. The agitated persons refused to speak to the ministers till the police were removed, and the wrangling continued for quite some time. The story at Piplud village, near Anjad a small meeting was held.
Here many of the dam affected alleged that the officials were demanding 20 per cent of the compensation money as bribe. In Anjad town, people led by NBA activists staged chakka-jam with tractors and opposed the decision to increase the dam height.
The ministers also visited Lakhan and Alavda and Chhota Barda villages in Barwani district. In all these places, the ministers were greeted by complaints about the lack of rehabilitation. The three ministers refused to answer any of the questions posed by the NBA activists and general people and said that they had come to here their complaints and access the situation and would answer only after talking to all parties.