Project-hit to be re­ha­bil­i­tated by March: Min­is­ter

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - HT NAVI MUMBAI - Sajana Nam­biar sajana.nam­biar@hin­dus­tan­

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.

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