Bid to settle dam impasse

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  • Published 15.07.10

Jamshedpur, July 14: Deputy commissioner of Seraikela-Kharsawan Gauri Prasad Sinha today directed the Subernarekha Multipurpose Project (SMP) authorities to speed up the process of paying compensation to the villagers who have been displaced following the closure of Chandil dam’s radial gates.

The move came in the wake of a fast-unto-death strike by members of Visthapit Mukti Vahini, a social organisation fighting for the displaced.

Led by a functionary, Kapur Bagi, four members of the organisation have been on the strike since the past five days. The protesters want the dam gates to remain open till the SMP authorities rehabilitated all the displaced villagers and paid full compensation.

The radial gates were closed on June 30 following a notification from the state water resources department to store more water in the dam for a hydel power project. Now, the water level will go up to 182m instead of 177m, thus submerging 52 villages in addition to 116.

But the affected villagers have refused to vacate their houses, claiming that the authorities concerned had not paid them the entire compensation amount. Apart from Visthapit Mukti Vahini, political parties like JMM, JVM and JD(U) have also taken up the cudgels for the displaced. Leaders of JVM and JMM had staged dharna and taken out rallies in protest against the government’s move.

However, the deputy commissioner made it clear that the administration would not bow down in the face of such pressure tactics. “On our part, we can take efforts to expedite the process of settling compensation dues and ensure that all get the rehabilitation package,” Sinha said.

Visthapit Mukti Vahini convener Arvind Anjuman claimed the authorities were trying to deflect attention from the movement. He vowed they would not call off the fast-onto-death strike until the radial gates were reopened.

“Today, a high-level team led by chief engineer, Chandil Complex of SMP, Braj Mohan Prasad held a meeting with the deputy commissioner. They also came to the protest site and promised to speed up the compensation process. But we refused to hear anything,” Anjuman said.