Displaced in 2007, Waiting for Compensation in 2015: A Bihar Story

The 2007 Bihar flood was described by the United Nations as the worst flood in the history of Bihar. The flood affected 2.3 million people in the Northern part of Bihar. Each monsoon, the rivers eat away people’s land while the government eats away their psyche by not providing compensation to those affected, as per the law. Government policies dictate that any affected person/family who owns less than 1 acre of land would be given 5 decimals of land – 4 for residential purpose and 1 for community roads and halls.

In Northern Bihar’s West Champaran district, approximately 50 families await compensation due from the 2007 floods. The river Sikrahna that flows through the district keeps flooding and changing its course each year, eating away a portion of neighbouring villages. When whole villages from 22 districts in Bihar drowned in 2007, the government promised to deliver compensation and rehabilitation as soon as possible. Yet, 8 years later the residents still await to receive even a tiny amount of what was promised. The protesters have visited the authorities multiple times all these years in the hope of land, but every time are made to run from pillar to post, from one block to another district.

Circle Officer of Majhowliya block, Virendra Mohan who was present at the protest, says that the process is still going on. The process has currently been stalled due to the assembly elections – which just ended yesterday on 9th November 2015 resulting in the victory of Nitish Kumar’s alliance, Bihar’s chief minister since Feb 2015 who also served earlier from 2005 to 2014. We would like to ask Virendra Mohan, what reason he wants to give for delaying the disbursement of compensation for the past 8 years? The protestors have met everyone from the District Collector to the Circle Officer and even the Sub-Divisional officer. How then, do the authorities explain the lag on the government’s behalf? We hope you don’t blame the elections next year as well.

The river changes direction each year, and so can voters casting their ballots. If the new government that has trumped BJP-led alliance in Bihar does not listen to it’s people now, then what transpired in the 2015 elections could repeat itself next year and all may not play out as well.

Community Correspondent Varsha herself is a settler and empathizes with the people of West Champaran. You can support the families of Majhowliya by calling the Circle Officer of Majhowliya on +91-9431077243 and pressurizing him to ensure compensation is disbursed in full to all those affected.

Varsha Jawalgekar reports from West Champaran, Bihar for IndiaUnheard.

This video was made by a Video Volunteers Community Correspondent Varsha. Community Correspondents come from marginalised communities from Bihar in India and produce videos on unreported stories. These stories are ’news by those who live it.’ they give the hyperlocal context to global human rights and development challenges. See more such videos at www.videovolunteers.org. Take action for a more just global media by sharing their videos and joining in their call for change.

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