Ghogalgaon, Khargaon: Over two dozen farmers here have been standing in waist-deep water since April 11. Ousted by the growing Omkareshwar dam on Narmada, these villagers in Madhya Pradesh are on an indefinite jalsatyagraha.
Three years ago, 51 farmers of the same village sat on a 17-day jalsatyagraha. They ended their protest only when the Shivraj Singh government gave in to their demands for more compensation for their land.
The state government did not keep its promise, the farmers say.
Farmer Shivcharan Rao says in 2006 he got Rs 3.5 lakh as compensation. Six years later, in 2012, he returned Rs 2 lakh after the government gave an assurance that the farmers would get a fertile plot within 90 days. He is still waiting for that plot.
“My land has submerged after the water level of Omkareshwar was raised to 191 meters on April 10,” said Shivcharan Rao. He had to take a loan to pay Rs 2 lakh to the state government. “I have to pay an interest of Rs 1.5 lakh. How will I repay the principal? I will have to commit suicide,” he said.
Over 400 farmers are in the same quandary.
The state government claims it has given enough compensation and is ready to give nothing more.
Already, it has sanctioned Rs 153 crore aid for the 6,329 families affected by the dam. An additional Rs 225 crore was paid in 2012, the government says.
But activists claim the aid did not reach the outsees.
“We cannot decrease the water level as it would mean stopping irrigation water to thousands of farmers,” said minister Lal Singh Arya. “We have done enough for the dam oustees. If they have anymore issues we will talk to them.”
Activists ask why the state government is not following the Supreme Court’s order to either compensate farmers with better land or pay them market price for plots of their choice.
“The law says the government should have rehabilitated the people before the project started. Now, the government is even taking back the compensation and not giving land is illegal,” Alok Agarwal, activist, Narmada Bachao Andolan, told NDTV.