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Displaced tell familiar tales of apathy

The issue may be over 60 years’ old, but it is still unresolved. Around 15,000 families displaced by Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) project continue to hold protests at regular intervals over compensation issue.

Among these displaced are 200 families of Goghna village near Maithon, 45km from Dhanbad district headquarters. The residents of this DVC project-affected area do not have much expectation with the Lok Sabha elections.

For, despite having around 1,000 voters, the village is still deprived of basic facilities like dispensary, high school, proper toilets, PDS shop, adequate lighting arrangement among others.

More shocking is the fact that Maithon lake is situated less than 500 metre from the village but the residents do not get pure drinking water.

According to the villagers, politicians visit Goghna only on the eve of the elections. And once the Dhanbad MP and Nirsa (Ghoghna falls in this Assembly constituency) MLA are elected, they never return to check the appalling condition of the voters, forget about development work.

“I have never seen a BPL card in my life nor do I have any knowledge about a health card,” said Goghna resident Kishore Marandi (40).

He added that his family of 10 had no job. They were totally dependent upon farming.

Marandi, who lost his right leg in a road accident about a year ago, rued the fact that even after giving away their land for the river valley project, the villagers had to pay for treatment at DVC’s BP Niyogi Hospital at Maithon.

“Our children don’t get any educational facility at the DVC-owned schools,” he added.

The villagers lamented that they were fighting an endless battle and had been ditched by political leaders at crucial junctures.

Marandi’s neighbour Sanatan Baski owns a BPL card but gets rice from the ration shop, three km away at Kalipahari, only after an interval of four to five months.

“In 1953, the first Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru laid the foundation for the DVC project, heralding development in the area. But none of the other Prime Ministers took stock of the displaced families,” Baski said.

The Goghna residents criticised the central government for turning a blind eye towards the job demands of the displaced people.

“Development at the cost of displacement of original inhabitants could never be justified. The responsibility of providing amenities lies with the government,” Baski said.

The villagers are now hoping against hope that the next Prime Minister addresses the issues.

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