Dam Built, Tribals Damned

Villagers displaced by the Mogra dam project have still not been rehabilitated five years later.

Bhan Sahu has been deeply involved with the communities displaced by the Mogra Dam project, whose construction five years ago left thousands landless and out of work. The dam, built on the Seonath River in Rajnandgaon district, was built to provide water for irrigation but is primarily being used to support a cluster of industrial units.

Besides losing their land to submersion and their livelihoods, the affected villagers face constant water shortages. In July, Bhan Sahu helped them stage a rally demanding compensation, which they have still not received. She is still actively fighting for the rights of these tribal community members, who are defeated again and again by thoughtless government infrastructural projects.

Along with her organization Jurmil Morcha, Bhan Sahu goes door-to-door and teaches the non-literate villagers how to file petitions, how to stage protests, and how to demand their rights. She unites them through a common purpose and direction. Many have begun to migrate to other places in search for small jobs and manual labour.

Bhan Sahu says that if the farmers do not receive their compensation by January 2011, as promised, she will again help to mobilize the people and stage a rally directed at the authorities concerned. She says that next time such a project is planned, she wants to see compehensive studies done by the engineers and government offices responsible.

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