Defence Minister visiting the project area for the first time

Will the visit of Defence Minister A.K. Antony to the Seabird project in Karwar on Saturday bring the cheer to the life of the evacuees of the project? The evacuees are hoping that the Defence Minister would be visiting the project area for the first time and would help solve their problems.

The evacuees, who were facing one or the other problems such as improper rehabilitation, meagre compensation, and employment fought for the cause for last two decades. The main problem of the evacuees was the compensation. The evacuees feel that the compensation awarded was meagre. Many of them had approached the court. But the non-cooperation of the Defence Ministry led to the accumulation of the cases in different courts, said Rattan Durgekar, an evacuee.

Many people got Rs. 200 as compensation per gunta of land. But the Supreme Court had awarded Rs. 11,000 to a woman evacuee. But the Navy officials refused to apply this yardstick for all other evacuees. Mr. Ratan hoped that Mr. Antony would take personal interest in it and solve their problems.

The fishermen and people who held small landholdings in the Seabird area were shifted to different centres such as Chittakula, Amadadlli, and Mudga. The condition of the evacuees was bad. They were devoid of basic amenities. Many people were living in difficult conditions. They had no jobs, said Shankar Harikantra, a fisherman.

The main demands of the evacuees were that every evacuee aged above 50 should be given pension. Their demands were more development funds for the gram panchayat where the evacuees were settled, higher compensation to land losers, and cooperation by the Seabird authorities with the fishermen for fishing.

The evacuees alleged that thedistrict administration provided the training at the government Industrial Training Institutes to the children of the evacuees. But these boys were not provided jobs by the Defence authorities as promised. Most of them had reached age-bar and unemployed.

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