Project oustees on warpath in Andhra Pradesh

  • Protests for fair deal in Polavaram, Gandikota

 From Our Correspondent

Vijayawada: Andhra Pradesh is now witnessing strong protests by the oustees of the two major projects in the State – Polavaram on river Godavari and Gandikota on river Pennar.

The two projects, though much required for the irrigation requirements in the State, are set to displace several hundreds of families in East Godavari for Polavaram and Kadapa for Gandikota.

The victims, who are to be removed from the villages and rehabilitated in safer places, are raising their voices firmly seeking better package, nothing less than the compensation promised in the Land Acquisition Act 2013 (Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2013).

Polavaram project, which is now made part of the AP Reorganisation Act 2014, is taken up on priority by the State. The Central government through NABARD had provided Rs 1981 crores as loan to the State government to begin the construction of the Polavaram project. The State government is gearing up to begin the works. The project is set to submerge over 400 villages of seven mandals around Bhadrachalam, now merged with the East Godavari district.

Over 400 villages are identified to be submerged and the government had promised to rehabilitate them with due compensation for their houses and lands. However, it had provided compensation and rehabilitation to just 14 villages till now. With the money on hand, the State government is planning to begin the construction activity at the site, which is now ready with the preparatory work done in the last two and a half years.

On Wednesday, thousands of the oustees, including students whose academic career is at stake, held road blockade at Polavaram and Chintoor areas raising slogans against the government. The residents who are ready to be shifted for the project have been asking for a fair compensation and better rehabilitation. However, the government is silent on this and is accused of using force to silence the displaced families on the rehabilitation issue.

Same is the case with the displaced families of Gandikota project in Kadapa district. The residents of several villages under the project have been fighting against the government’s failure to provide rehabilitation and compensation. The displaced families are blaming the government for filling the reservoir with water without rehabilitating them. The families from Chowtapalle, which is set to be submerged in the project water, have been holding protests for the past two days. The water being stored in the reservoir has already entered the village as the gravel bund built by the people themselves breached.

Senior bureaucrat and former IAS officer, EAS Sarma, had filed a Public Interest Litigation in the High Court against the State government on Gandikota project for its failures to provide rehabilitation to the displaced people. The activists of the human rights associations and environmentalists too have been raising their voices for the oustees in vain as the government is turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to the pleas of those being displaced.

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