In fever, Jal satyagrahis hold ground in waist-deep water

INDORE: Farmers stood waist-deep in water on Friday, the seventh day of Jal Satyagraha in Gogalgaon village in Khandwa district 150 km from here, even as some protestors developed ‘washermen foot disease’ resulting in fungal infection and fever.

With both protestors and state government sticking to their guns, no early end to the vexed issue appears to be in sight. State government came out with a statement claiming enough compensation was given to dam oustees and there is no human habitation at water level of 191 metre of dam.

NBA leader Alok Agrawal said health of protestors has deteriorated on seventh day of the agitation. “No one from government has come for talks and there is no medical team either.”

“Government is only making aerial survey with a helicopter,” he added.

Farmers took to jal satyagraha to oppose increase in water-level of Omakreshwar Dam to 191 metres from 189 metres. Of 6,329 families affected by the dam, no family of farmer is affected at water level of 191 metres. If dam height is raised to its full capacity to 196.60 metres, it would affect 221 families, according to the statement. “Omkareshwar dam has a capacity to generate 520 MW of power and it will irrigate 2.83 hectares of land every year and for this water level of dam will be increased up to 196.60 metres,” the statement read.

Government claimed farmers have been given compensation of Rs 153.4 crore. Of this, Rs 101.65 crore was given as compensation for property, Rs 20.18 crore was given for housing and Rs 31.20 crore was given as transportation grant. All dam oustees were given plots of 5,400 square feet free of cost for constructing house. “Beside chief minister had announced special package of Rs 225 crore for farmers in 2012,” the statement added.

NBA activists contested the state government claiming compensation was not sufficient and it was given after protracted struggle. “State did not follow compensation guidelines for land and against land,” alleged Agrawal, adding rehabilitation was not done deliberately. Government should have settled the rehabilitation issues in one go.

Hearing in Supreme Court was deferred on Thursday and matter was listed for next month. Agrawal said they would go ahead with protest till farmers were rehabilitated as per rules.

In 2012, state government announced special package under which a compensation of Rs 2 lakh per acre was offered. “Around 400 families refused the package demanding cultivable land against acquired land. These farmers have yet not been rehabilitated,” said the NBA activist. The recent increase in water-level had left several acres of land submerged. And farmers who own less than five acres of land were worst hit.

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