Thursday, July 05, 2007

Dam-affected villagers await justice in MP

Rubina Khan Shapoo, Thursday, July 5, 2007 (Bhopal)

In Madhya Pradesh, people affected by two major hydro electrical projects on Narmada river - Indira Sagar and Omekareshwar project have been on strike for almost a month.And on the 28th day of the dharna by 5000 villagers and an indefinite fast by two activists, the minister concerned agreed to meet them.During the four-hour-long meeting, issues such as proper implementation of rehabilitation policies and inclusion of thousands who have not yet found a place in the government's list of displaced persons were discussed.The government now plans to form a task force and hold camps at different villages for an on-the-spot assessment of grievances and their quick redressal.The authorities, their representatives can sit there on the spot so that the villagers don't have to come to Bhopal, the government can go to villages and solve their problems,'' said Nagender Singh, Narmada Valley Development Minister.The two projects are complete but nearly 12,000 people of 280 villages in Khandwa, Harda and Dewas are still struggling for lack of proper rehabilitation measures.While the government claims that the rehabilitation process is complete, the High Court in May this year remarked that the government rehabilitation plan had not quite been followed.The Minister agreed that there have been major irregularities in implementing the rehabilitation policies and that that the affected people are not wrong in demanding their legal rights.But the question is how long do these people have to continue struggling for something that is right?

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