Activists stage a protest led by KMSS president Akhil Gogoi, against the eviction drive in Guwahati on Sunday. (PTI)
Guwahati, July 6: In a complete U-turn, the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) today opposed the eviction drive launched by the Kamrup (metro) district administration to clear the waterbodies in the city from illegal encroachers as a measure to prevent waterlogging.
The KMSS vowed to stop the eviction drive and demanded proper rehabilitation and compensation for the evicted families.
Earlier, the KMSS told reporters that it supported the eviction drive considering the greater interest of the city. Today, the Samiti held a public meeting at Lakhidhar Bora Khetra here and asked city residents to build up a strong protest against the eviction drive that the Kamrup (metro) administration launched six days ago.
Braving the heat and holding banners with slogans like “We will give blood but not land”, “Our land our rights”, “We must have rights on land”, around 5,000 members of different branches of the Samiti participated at the public meeting. The meeting was presided over by the Kamrup district unit president of KMSS, Nityananda Rajkonwar.
According to the KMSS, only the poor have been targeted by the “discriminatory” and “inhuman” eviction drive whereas the rich with their multi-storied buildings have not been affected by it. “The eviction drive should be stopped from tomorrow. All of you should come forward to stop it,” Akhil urged the people. Nine persons died because of electrocution, landslides and drowning when torrential rain lashed the city recently and inundated many parts of it. According to the district administration, construction of illegal houses by encroachers along the major water channels passing through the city affect the smooth flow of water resulting in flash floods.
“The floods occurred after a few hours of rain. The state government is putting the entire blame upon the poor people living in the hills, waterbodies, and those living along the Bharalu. Will there be no rain if people do not live in the hills? Should the hill dwellers be blamed for the rain?” Akhil asked.
“There will always be rain no matter whether people live on the hills or not. And the rainwater, naturally, will always come down from the hills to the city. But it is the government who is to be blamed for the floods. Because the government has failed to construct drains scientifically to prevent waste materials and mud from entering into them to decrease their carrying capacity,” said Akhil.
Akhil described the eviction drive as a class war, a fight between the poor and the rich. “We are, at the same time, of the view that living in the hills, near the rivers and at waterbodies is not a good thing to do.
While indigenous people have been evicted from these lands, businessmen from outside possess such land. Only the hill dwellers are not to be blamed for the city’s floods but also the rich people living in the city. They throw polythene bags and waste material into the drains. Why has the government not taken any action against the rich?” Akhil asked.
The KMSS demanded “land either near the Bharalu or in some other places” for the families who have been evicted by the administration from near the river.
The Samiti also demanded compensation of Rs 10 lakh against every demolished pucca house and Rs 5 lakh against every demolished kuchha house. It also demanded Rs 20 lakh as compensation to the family of Chandra Devi who died on Thursday when the eviction drive was on.
The organisation demanded a ban on polythene bags, regular cleaning of drains, 300 horse power water pumps for Anil Nagar, Nabin Nagar and Tarun Nagar, scientific drainage system for the city and land deeds for all who have resided anywhere in the city before June 22, 2011.
The district administration today cleared 1,000 metres of Pamohi river manually and with the held of an excavator. It also demolished 212 kuccha and four RCC houses, 10 Assam-type houses and cleared five bighas of land along the Basistha river.
The administration evicted 23 boundary walls, 19 bathrooms and toilets, one RCC structure and two bighas of government land along the Bharalu river.
The Majuli sub-divisional administration today carried out an eviction drive at the embankment in Salmora area of the island and demolished about 40 huts set up illegally.