Other States

Satna farmers demand solatium for income loss

An earthmover digging up land for the laying of pipelines for the Satna-Bansagar water supply scheme in Satna district.

An earthmover digging up land for the laying of pipelines for the Satna-Bansagar water supply scheme in Satna district.   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Several farmers in at least 300 villages of Satna district are demanding compensation for the loss of crop income as they claim their agricultural fields have either been dug up or lie strewn with construction material for a water supply project for more than a year now.

The Satna-Bansagar Multi-Village Rural Water Supply Scheme, to be completed next year at a cost of ₹1,495.89 crore, plans to bring treated water from the Bansagar Dam on the Son river to 1,019 villages in six blocks of the district. While the State government maintains pipelines are being laid on its land along roads and with the consent of owners in case of small private land patches, farmers rue the construction has left parts of their fields gravelly and infertile, unfit for cultivation.

“Workers dug out parts of our field and left boulders around,” said Gaurav Mishra, whose family owns five acres of land. “That part is no more cultivable as it’s gravelly and uneven.”

Stating they were denied compensation for loss of income when demanded, Mr. Mishra of Bada Itma village of Ramnagar block, among those to be benefited by the project, said a part of the produce the family sold for ₹4-5 lakh growing paddy, moong and soyabean every year, had now been lost. “We are not opposing the project. After all, it will bring us water,” he clarified.

Subhash Pandey of the Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Mahasangh has written to the District Collector, the Chief Minister and the National Human Rights Commission demanding compensation, but to no avail. He says the authority concerned is yet to inform him of action taken in the matter within eight weeks, as directed by the Commission in September last year.

Farming seasons were being lost and the government refused to compensate farmers, contended Mr. Pandey. “More than 2,500 farmers are affected as a result. When the country is relying on the agrarian economy to bring the economy back on track during the COVID-19 pandemic, our farmers are being disrespected like this,” he said.

“The pipelines are being laid five-six feet underground, so there is no loss to farmers,” said A.P. Dwivedi, Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Ramnagar, who was directed by the District Magistrate in November last year to submit a report to the Commission in a time-bound way. Moreover, he added the pipeline was being laid on government land along roads, “so there is no question of compensation”.

The Madhya Pradesh Bhumigat Pipeline, Cable Avam Duct (Bhumi ki upyokta ke adhikaron ka arjan) Niyam, 2013, provides for compensation for crop and tree loss for “the period of laying of underground pipeline, cable or duct”. “Although there is a law, we have received no orders from the top to compensate farmers in such cases State-wide,” said a senior official of the Madhya Pradesh Jal Nigam Maryadit, a State government undertaking, requesting anonymity.

Meanwhile, Ashish Srivastava, the undertaking’s Chief General Manager, said it had received no such claims from farmers so far. “If there is a legitimate claim, we will of course compensate them,” he said, adding some farmers encroaching upon government land along roads might be raising the demand now.

“The pipeline works aren't causing any obstruction to farming. And there is no element of coercion,” contended M.K. Mudgal, General Manager, Project Implementation Unit, Satna.

He further said the project, which began in November 2018, was being funded by the New Development Bank whose guarantee was that government land be used mostly for it.

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Printable version | Sep 24, 2020 3:41:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/satna-farmers-demand-solatium-for-income-loss/article32270015.ece

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