A team of State officers, led by Chandrashekhar Borkar, Additional Secretary to the Chief Minister, and comprising Indore divisional commissioner Sanjay Dubey and ADG Police Ajay Sharma arrived at Chikhalda village on Saturday to meet Ms. Patkar and 11 others sitting on indefinite fast to demand rehabilitation of those being displaced by Gujarat’s Sardar Sarovar Dam. Religious Guru Bhaiyuji Maharaj also accompanied the officers.
A neutral team, led by former Madhya Pradesh Chief Secretary SC Behar, also toured several rehabilitation sites. Others in this team were retired police officer Arun Gurtu, senior journalist LS Hardenia and Chandrakant Naidu.
When the official team was asked whether they were having any formal letter from the Government authorizing them to meet those sitting on strike, Borkar replied in the negative and said that they were there to talk about the health of Ms. Patkar and others sitting on fast on instructions of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who had expressed his concern about their health.
The villagers and their representatives told the officers how the Government was misleading the people by rolling out false statistics, and making preparations for the submergence and eviction of hundreds of thousands.
Ms. Patkar confronted the officials by asking them to reply whether or not the government was really obeying the High Court order. Whether full rehabilitation had been done as claimed by the government. She asked how the government can even think of evicting lakhs of people from their villages without their proper rehabilitation. She also wanted to know why not a single village coming under submergence had been covered under the recent Narmada Seva Yatra of the Chief Minister?
The NBA leader also said that the work of rehabilitation of the dam affected people was taken up by the Government only after their petition had come up in the Supreme Court. When Maharashtra has followed the High Court order, purchased land and given it to the people, whey the Madhya Pradesh government is not thinking about the people of this state. We are not asking even for an iota beside what has been guaranteed under the law. We are not asking for cash compensation. How can the government give cash instead of land to the tribals. Why the government is not following the laid down policy and directions given by the court in this regard.
Ms. Patkar said up till now neither the people entitled for Rs. 60 lakh and Rs. 15 lakh under the Supreme Court order have been compensated nor the list of 681 beneficiaries been released by the Government . What about the 60 per cent landless labourers –where they will go, she asked. Borkar responded to this by stating in categorical terms that he was not having any authority and was there only to deliver the Chief Minister’s message.