Why Does Development Always Displace?

People from three villages in West Champaran Bihar, are protesting as their homes get taken away for the construction of a massive road along the Indo-Nepal border. The 65 families who stand to be displaced have not been given official notices for eviction. They also do not know where they will be shifted to or what compensation will be given to them for their lands. VV-PACS Correspondent Tanju reports from the field on the simmering anger there and the steps people are taking to make sure this doesn’t happen. You can make sure that their voices get heard by contacting these officials: Call Abhay Kumar, The District Development Officer on +91- 9473151294 or Email him on dm-bettiah.bih@nic.in & Call R.P. Singh, Chairman of the National Highways Authority of India on 011-25093503 or Email him on chairman@nhai.org Tell the officials that they should go back to affected villages to conduct a second survey of the land and take into account the suggestions of the residents of Safarva, Jamauli and Harkatva. In June 2012 the Bihar Government unveiled plans to start the construction of a major road bordering the Indo-Nepal border. With a budget of over INR 1,600 Crores, the 552 km long road is a great step towards a more secure border area and increased connectivity between parts of Bihar but all of this will come at a cost for some. For the construction to begin, around 65 families will be displaced from their homes in villages Safarva, Jamauli and Harkatva, which are located in Gaunaha Block of West Champaran District. Even as Bihar’s Chief Minister inaugurated the project in June 2013 in a public ceremony, the residents were unaware of what was going to happen. Ever since they have found out about the construction the resdients have been trying to reason with the government. They’ve proposed an alternative route that will save the government INR 12 Crores and sent multiple requests to different officials in charge of this construction. They’ve had no luck so far. Tanju has been covering the story since December 2013 on the request of the residents. The work to facilitate action between the government and the people is going to be long and hard. She says: In a case like this where all the people have come together as one, anything is possible to do. Recently we’ve been looking into the process of filing an application under the Right to Information Act. This will be done only after the process of elections is over in India because till then most of the government machinery is being channelled for that process. We are all committed to making sure that these 65 families do not join the millions of already displaced people in India. Why should development always come at the cost of the poorest sections of the country? Please join us in our protest. About the Partnership: The Poorest Areas Civil Society (PACS) Programme and Video Volunteers have come together to create the Community Correspondents Network. The videos generated by the network will be able to highlight voices from the margins, providing skills to social communicators to provide advocacy tools to community based organisations.

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