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To the Nation, With Love: The Gift of Displacement From the Sardar Sarovar Project

21 families displaced by submergence from the Sardar Sarovar Dam over a decade ago have been allocated land in a marsh to rebuild their lives.

Raju Solanki’s village in Barwani district of Madhya Pradesh was partially submerged during the construction of the Sardar Sarovar Dam over ten years ago. 21 families in Bhadal village were rendered homeless at that time. Recently the government allotted them resettlement plots 150 kilometres away in the neighbouring district of Dhar. “The plots are on the other side of the highway. We cannot build houses there, it is very difficult,” says Raju.

Community Correspondent Pawan Solanki, who makes videos on the plights of the adivasi communities affected by the dam on Narmada river in Madhya Pradesh, reveals that the resettlement plots are situated between two rivers. “Forget building houses, it is difficult to even stand on the marshy land there,” he says.

Modi dedicated the dam to the nation. But what nation is that? One where people displaced for decades are cast aside as inconvenience by the government?

While on paper, the Madhya Pradesh government promises reallocated land to build houses and monetary compensation, in reality, the resettlement of those displaced by the Sardar Sarovar Project tells an entirely different story. Last year Pawan made a video of a protest by the displaced communities in the state where between 40,000 and 50,000 families had not been rehabilitated. This year, with the dam height being raised further during its completion hundreds more were displaced.

“The rehabilitation area was supposed to have a school, a panchayat building and an anganwadi centre. Not only has the government failed in these promises, but the existing public infrastructure is also in very poor condition,” says Pawan. The Sardar Sarovar Dam was inaugurated on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s birthday, earlier this year in September. Modi dedicated the dam to the nation. But what nation is that? One where people displaced for decades are cast aside as inconvenience by the government?

The displaced people from Bhadal have no roofs over their heads despite the tall promises of the government about how the dam is supposed to benefit 4 crore people. To help them, call the Rehabilitation Officer Ashok Kumar Jadhav on +91-9754655029 and ask him to immediately relocate and compensate the 21 families.  

Video by Community Correspondent Pawan Solanki

Article by Madhura Chakraborty, a journalist in the VV Editorial Team

 

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