MP agrees to dam oustees' demands

MP agrees to dam oustees' demands

Govt will give land as compensation to protesters

Agreeing to the main demands of protesters who had launched a “Jal Satyagraha” in Khandwa district, the Madhya Pradesh government on Monday said they will be given land as compensation and height of the Omkareshwar dam will be reduced.

The government has decided to give land for land to the displaced villagers and reduce the dam height to 189 metres, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said.

Both were key demands of the protesters, who are standing in neck-deep water since August 25, to demand proper rehabilitation and compensation. Besides, a five-member committee has been set up to look into the problems of the dam oustees, Chouhan said after meeting their representatives led by BJP MLA Lokendra Singh Tomar.

In 2008, monetary compensation was deposited directly in the account of the oustees and the benefit of land will be available only to those who returned the amount within 90 days, he said. These oustees will be given government land with the help of banks, he said.

The Chief Minister added that his government understood the “pain” of the protesters and hence it has been decided to limit the dam height to 189 meters.

This will mean that the dam’s irrigation potential will be reduced by 20,000 hectares and 120 MW of power will have to be forgone, he said.

“The government was committed to safeguard the interests of those displaced. The dam on river Narmada was being constructed in the interest of the state and the government wants to make agriculture a profitable business,” he added.

Meanwhile, Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Chittrupa Palit on Monday said the “Jal Satyagraha” will now be converted into a “Bhoomi Adhikar Satyagraha.”

Local Congress MP Arun Yadav said that state government should have taken the decision about a week back. He added that the state government has done nothing for the oustees who were only demanding their rights.