Project-hit to be rehabilitated by March: Minister
State industries minister Subhash Desai has assured the project-affected of Barvi dam project that he would look after their rehabilitation.
Desai visited the dam on Wednesday and met MIDC officials over the Barvi dam project.
The villagers have been opposing the project and fighting for their demands for the past three years. The height of Badlapur’s Barvi dam is going to be raised for the fourth time in 42 years, displacing villagers from the land on which they had been rehabilitated when it was first built in 1973.
The raising of the dam height will displace around 3,500 people. Municipal corporations of Thane, Navi Mumbai, KalyanDombivli, Ulhasnagar, BhiwandiNizampura and Mira-Bhayander will get ample water supply after the project is completed.
“The minister said he would rehabilitate the villagers by March 2016. He also ensured the villagers that he would meet their demands before this. However, he has given three months’ time to the villagers to shift and allow the project work,” said Prakash Lonkar, executive engineer for Barvi Dam project.
The 8,000 residents of Tondli, Kachkoli, Mohaghar, Tale and Kolewakhel home to Agri, Kunbi and Adivasi communities will be affected by the project.
The project for raising the dam’s height started in 2009. But, it got delayed because the villagers refused to shift from the land.
The sarpanch of Kanchkoli village is not convinced. “We have asked for proper rehabilitation in terms of money, employment, land and shelter. However, the villagers complained that none of the villagers were asked to be a part of the meeting while the decision was taken,” said Kisan Bangara, sarpanch of Kanchkoli village.
Over 3,000 acres of prime forest land is also expected to get submerged, according to the project plan. Built at a cost of Rs3.5 crore in 1973, the dam, originally 38.10m-high, displaced around 2,000 people from seven villages and submerged over 4,750 acres of dense forests.
The dam’s height was raised from 38.10m to 44.7m in 1979, to 52m in 1985, to 66.5m in 1999. It is now being raised to 72m.
The project was undertaken by the MIDC followed by the rapid population growth in the suburbs which has increased the demand for water.
The total storage capacity will increase from 174 million cubic metres to 347 million cubic metres. “I have tried approaching several officials and political leaders but they only give deadlines. We have been suffering for decades and the government has done nothing about it. We don’t have any other option but to protest,” added Bangara.