Khirendra who hails from the strife-ridden ‘red corridor’ region of Bastar is an eccentric renaissance man. He is sculptor, a painter, a street theater artiste and an ex- football player for his district. He is a long distance runner by passion and claims impressive distances and impressive speeds. He is a dalit. The oppression that he experienced and witnessed while…
Eager to establish its credentials as an advanced state, the Chhattisgarh government is sacrificing its people as stepping stones in its path to progress. In today’s video, IndiaUnheard community correspondent Khirendra Yadav documents the destruction that is being wrought on the inhabitants of Kontagaon by the widening of National Highway 30. Over three years ago, the state government went on a development and beautification drive. The collateral damage was the populace.
In its bid to broaden the highway, the government decided to demolish the bordering shops and houses. Initially against the move, the locals gave their consent when they were promised speedy compensation by the Sub-District Magistrate. This promise, like most others of its race, remained of course illusory. Buildings were broken, the road was widened, and nothing happened.
Tired of waiting, the people appealed to the Chhattisgarh High Court once, twice, and then a third time. Each time, the court issued a directive asking for the individuals affected to be recompensed. But the days flowed by and no payment came their way. More than three years later, they sit among the ruins of their former lives, still awaiting an increasingly chimeric compensation.
Himself an inhabitant of the region, Khirendra Yadav discussed their distress with us:
“The situation here is quite terrible. With their shops and houses destroyed, the locals are in a state of limbo. Vikram Rathore, for instance, had parts of both his shop and his house demolished. He was born and brought up here, this is his home. He also has a family to support. His mother lives with him and he has children.”
“It is the same with 70–80 other families. The front two rooms of most structures have been torn down and the people are being forced to make do with the two which remain from the rear portion. They can only lead half lives, but they have nowhere else to go.”
“Occasionally we think that party politics might have something to do with the issue. It was the ruling BJP government that had the buildings broken down. More than half of the individuals who occupied these buildings were Congress supporters. But we cannot be sure of course.”
In the meantime, the people continue to wait. It can only be hoped that the dissemination of their story will finally achieve for them what even the judiciary couldn’t.
Call to Action: Call the District Officer on 07686242008 and ask him to distribute the money to the people at the earliest.
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