Rahi Gaikwad

Seeks compensation for project-hit people

MUMBAI: Ahead of the State Cabinet meeting, usually slated for Wednesday, Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar and people affected by various projects in Maharashtra protested outside Tilak Bhawan, the Congress party headquarters in Mumbai.

Police rushed to the spot and brought Ms. Patkar and the agitators to Azad Maidan by 2.15 p.m.

The agitation covers lands acquired over the years and even as far back as a hundred years ago. For instance, the Tata dam in Maval and Mulshi talukas were acquired as per the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (LAQ).

“The lands have been seized without any compensation or rehabilitation,” says a statement of the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) led by Ms. Patkar.

The statement has been forwarded to State Rehabilitation Relief Minister, Patangrao Kadam. It also demands water to be provided for farming and household use.

Rehabilitation not yet

“In the last manifesto, the government promised to rehabilitate and compensate. However, nothing has been done. Thousands of acres have been acquired at a pittance. With the loss of land and homes, these people then become labourers,” said Ms. Patkar.

The gathering included people who have not received compensation for acquired land, those who have not been rehabilitated and those displaced due to slum demolition in the city.

Six dam projects in Pune, Yavatmal and Narmada dams, Lavasa and Sahara city projects, Special Economic Zones are among the projects defaulting on promises to landowners.

Land acquisition

Sitabai Raghunath Dongre’s 21 acres were acquired for the Pavna dam, near the Mumbai Pune highway. The land is in her father’s name, who received a paltry Rs. 25, 000 for the 13 acres that was acquired by the government.

The remaining eight acres were not acquired. However, they lie submerged under water without any document to account for their ownership.

The protests are a combination of various andolans related to the issues of land acquisition and displacement due to projects. They began in Lonavala in Pune district on October 11.

“They will continue in Mumbai indefinitely,” said Ms. Patkar.

Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) chief Manikrao Thakare and Deputy Chief Minister and Home Minister R.R. Patil are slated to meet Ms. Patkar on Wednesday.