The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Discord in water world
- face-off/ Fate of Subarnarekha oustees
The introduction of boating facility at Chandil dam has fuelled a controversy. While the government claims that this would provide jobs to many, those displaced by the Subarnarekha Multipurpose Project are not convinced…

SUDHIR MAHATO:Only an insensitive government can take decisions such as starting boating facilities to woo tourists at the Chandil dam, which comes under Subarnarekha Multipurpose Project (SMP) in the Seraikela-Kharsawan district. By inaugurating the boating facility chief minister Babulal Marandi has proved that he gives higher priority to amusement than to satiating the hunger of scores of villagers.

When the SMP project had started in the 1980s the erstwhile Bihar government had taken away land from villagers of Chandil and Icchagarh with an assurance that the displaced families would be adequately compensated. But even two decades later more than half the total number of displaced persons are still running from pillar to post to get their legitimate dues.

After the creation of a separate state I had petitioned the state water resources department to speed up the process of payment of compensation and other benefits that were promised by the erstwhile Bihar government. There are 116 villages in and around Chandil and Icchagarh that have been affected by the SMP project. The saddest part of the incomplete scheme is that villagers, who gave up their land willingly for the project, have stopped demanding their dues. They are frustrated since their demands were not even heard.

These villagers have simply accepted their fate. Apart from monetary compensation, the state government had promised other benefits like employment to at least one member of each displaced family besides education and medical facilities. I dare the state government to conduct a survey through an independent agency to find out how many have got their compensation.

The gullible villagers have been taken for a ride by the powers that be.

Water resources ministry officials, including Ramchandra Kesri, had promised us that the state government would look into the problem of the displaced people. But their promises are yet to be fulfiled. A large number of displaced people have left their homes and settled in West Bengal.

The villagers would have worshiped Marandi had he visited the dam site and distributed monetary compensation that was due to them. But by inaugurating the boating facility his image and that of the NDA government have been affected badly. The affected villagers are not going to pardon the chief minister for visiting the spot not to enquire about them but for some other purpose.

The state government had set up 22 rehabilitation centres to house the displaced persons affected by the project. Except for one, all the other 21 centres are in a mess.

In fact, these 21 rehabilitation centres have no water, electricity or even roads. I believe the Marandi government does not have paucity of resources to provide proper shelter to these families. The government is just not working for the poor and down trodden. It is but natural that people have started protesting against the new facility. at Chandil dam.


A.K. SINGH:Introducing boating at the Chandil dam has been good for the steel city. Not only common people but also those who have been displaced because of the Subarnarekha Multi-purpose Project have expressed pleasure at the alternative source of entertainment at Chandil.

Moreover, the boating facility has provided local unemployed youths, particularly those who have been displaced, an opportunity to earn a living.

The problems of displaced persons in and around Chandil is not a new one, it is a 20-year-old problem. Those who had to part with their ancestral property in the wake of the Chandil dam’s construction were bound to face a plethora of problems but the government has been able to solve the problem to a great extent.

The erstwhile Bihar government did not pay proper attention to the problems of the displaced persons.

But the situation has helped some biased leaders who benefited from the problem of the displaced people rather than trying to find a genuine solution.

As a matter of fact, the problem of displaced persons is not so bad today as it was three years ago. Because after the World Bank stopped providing funds for the ambitious project, the erstwhile Bihar government stopped providing compensation to displaced persons.

But for the past four years I have been trying to solve their problem and have succeeded in settling most of the pending cases.

Long after the World Bank stopped funding the project I collected funds from different heads and started the process of clearing compensations.

And after the formation of Jharkhand I urged the state government to expedite the process so that the displaced persons may get relief at the earliest.

Moreover, I continued to bring about an overall development in Chandil and Icchagarh for the benefit of the local people. I made water resource minister Ram Chandra Kesri hold a series of meetings to solve the problems of the displaced persons.

An arrangement has been made to give priority to the displaced persons for the posts of grade III and grade IV employees of the state. The introducing of boating facility at Chandil dam was aimed at generating income and making the area a tourist spot.

Solving the problem of the displaced persons is my first priority. I would like to say I would not contest the next assembly elections if the state government fails to solve the problem by the end of the next financial year.

But as far as boating at the Chandil dam is concerned, people were not opposed to the idea as many think. In fact, I would like to introduce newer things at the Chandil dam. I want the development of the area and progress of the people living there.

And if anyone or any leader has any objection to this then let them suggest a better alternative for Chandil’s development.

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