People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 51

December 29,2002


 Rehabilitate and  Compensate  Tehri Dam Oustees

GETTING set for mass actions in favour of Tehri dam oustees in the state capital of Uttaranchal, a delegation of the CPI(M) leaders led by Somnath Chatterjee MP, and comprising  Brinda Karat, central committee member, Vijai Rawat, secretary, CPI(M) Uttaranchal state committee and Bhagwan Singh Rana, secretary, CPI(M) Tehri district committee, met the prime minister in New Delhi on December 20 and submitted a 31 point charter of demands to him on the burning Tehri Dam issue. The oustees have been left in lurch with the state passing the buck to the centre and the centre to the states.

The CPI(M) delegation drew the attention of the prime minister to the severe problems being faced by the dam affected population in view of the steps taken by the central as well as the state governments to commence construction of stage 1 on March 2003.  The tragedy of the situation, they stated, is that even at the stage of identification of villages to be submerged partially or completely has not been completed. Coming from the Tehri area himself, Rana stressed that a very serious and perilous situation is being faced by thousands of peasants of Bhilangane and Bhagirathi valleys, and it was both a rural and urban problem.

The charter stated that the population of the old Tehri town even today was living in the township without any facilities. The delegation impressed up on the prime minister that the genuine demands of these families have not been addressed at all. Even the compensation offered  was a pittance”, they  said.

The purpose of settling claims and rehabilitation of all categories of submerged land should be taken into account, they said, and as this has not been done so far, it was causing immense problems to the affected population.

The CPI(M) over the last few months has been agitating over these issues and has held a series of meetings and popular panchayats in the villages of the affected area. A mass signature campaign was also launched. The prime minister was handed over a memorandum signed  by as many as 20,000 citizens of the area.

The party demanded the prime minister to intervene in the interest of solving the serious problems of the people of Tehri.

The prime minister assured the delegation that the central government would look into the matter sympathetically and will convene a meeting in which the central and the state government functionaries will participate apart from representatives of the political parties.

Later on Rawat and Rana told pressmen that a phased agitation would begin during the coming assembly session demanding action from the governments. After having already held a convention in October, the CPI(M) will now take the agitation to the grassroots level, they added.