The Wang Marathwadi Dam project may sound like one of the many government projects that start in the name of development but often fail to fulfill the basic and minimum requirements that must be fulfilled in the process of building of a dam. The people of the area have, however, started an exemplary movement against these unjust policies of the government and challenged the repeated false promises of rehabilitation made by the government of Maharashtra. The Wang Marathwadi Dharangrast Kruti Samiti, affiliated to NAPM, have started the Jal Satyagraha by planting seeds on the fertile river bed and refusing to let the crops drown in the water of the river. The ‘Jal Satyagraha’ started from the 11th of June 2012 near Mendh village.
Wang Marathwadi Dam is situated in the Patan tehsil of the Satara district in Maharashtra. Mendh is one of the nine villages affected by the construction of the dam. The dam project has affected the area in more than one ways. Four villages will be fully submerged and five villages will be partially submerged after the completion of the dam. The villages that were once flourishing with fertile lands, schools and all the basic amenities and infrastructure have been vacated for the construction of the dam. According to the rehabilitation policy of the State Government, the people who are to be displaced in the process must also be rehabilitated in the command area of the dam with all the basic infrastructural facilities and amenities by the government. More than 1800 families are affected by this project, are to be rehabilitated by the government.
In April 2012, State Forest and Rehabilitation Minister Patangrao Kadam had announced in a meeting attended by district collectors of Pune, Satara, Sangli, Kolhapur and Solapur and the representatives of the dam-affected sections, Medha Patkar and Suniti S R that the process of rehabilitation would be completed within six months. It may also be noted that the areas affected by the dam include Satara district, the native district of the present Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Prithviraj Chauhan, who has repeatedly expressed his concern for the project affected people. Despite its many promises, the government has failed to rehabilitate the affected people completely. The Maharashtra government is compelling the people of the dam-affected areas to accept the land in the belt of draught-prone areas in Sangli District. The rehabilitation has affected not just the lives of the people but also their means of livelihood. Rehabilitation to a different district and in a draught-prone area has made life even more difficult for the people of the area. Around 70% of the project affected people are still waiting for rehabilitation.
The people of the dam-affected villages have been struggling for their rights and lives for the past 15 years. In spite of the strong protest of the people to complete the dam without rehabilitation and in spite of many assurances by the Government to that effect, the first phase of the dam is complete and the Maharashtra Krushna Valley Development Corporation have decided to fill the dam in this monsoon. This unjust move of the MKVDC and Maharashtra State Government has now added vigor to the movement of the people to get their rightful rehabilitation with the land. The Jal Satyagraha has reached its culmination point with hundreds of people sitting on the banks of the river in mass protest. The people of the area have been protesting with the slogan ‘Aadhi Punarvasan, Magach Dharan’ [rehabilitation first, then only the dam].
The people also met the Chief Minister and Rehabilitation Minister of Maharashtra on 8th of July to communicate their plight to the government. The project affected people have decided to stand in solidarity despite the Monsoon rains and have refused to give the Satyagraha up till their voices are heard and the process of proper rehabilitation is completed.
Your support is needed to this people’s struggle against unjust displacement. Be there with us! “Ladenge, Jeetange!”
For details contact : Suniti S.R. 09423571784
National Alliance of People’s Movements
National Office : 29-30, A Wing, First Floor, Haji Habib Building, Naigaon Cross Road Dadar (E), Mumbai – 400 014. Phone – 022 2415 0529 | 9969363065; Delhi Office : 6/6 Jangpura B, New Delhi – 110 014 . Phone : 011 2437 4535 | 9818905316