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The Enduring Peaceful Struggle for the rehabilitation of the Wang-Marathwadi dam oustees has succeeded at last! According to the Directives issued by the Water Resources Department, Government of Maharashtra on October, 31st, 2017, to the Executive Director, Maharashtra Krishna Valley Development Corporation, shall Rehabilitate the of Wang Marathwadi Dam Affected Families above the Reservoir Fringe and shall grant them cash compensation acceptable to the PaPs in lieu of the alternative agricultural lands due.

The brief background of the issue is as follows –

Wang-Marathwadi Medium Irrigation Project involves construction of a dam on the Wang River in village Marathwadi, Taluka Patan, District Satara, Maharashtra. The proposed reservoir will fully submerge four villages where as five villages will be partially submerged. The land acquisition was accomplished in 1998. It was assured that the Project Affected Families would be rehabilitated in the 46 villages in the command area of the project, in Satara District. The work of construction of the dam was taken up duly. Large tracts of the acquired agricultural land were used as quarries for the soil required for dam construction and were eventually rendered useless for cultivation.

The bolt from blue came for the Project Affected Families when they were informed that they are being rehabilitated in draught prone Vita and Khanapur talukas of Sangli district since there was not enough land available for rehabilitation in the command area in Satara District. This area in Sangli District is perpetually drought prone and the agro climatic conditions can hardly support sustenance of a farming community. The so called irrigation facilities – being paraded by the rehabilitation authorities – are unproven and hence the project affected people of the Wang-Marathwadi Dharangrast Kruti Samiti (Wang-Marathwadi dam affected action committee) rejected this offer and demanded that they should be given the alternative agricultural lands in the Wang Project command area in Satara District.

Between 2000 and 2008, the dam construction work came to a halt on many counts. However, in 2009, it was restarted – without rehabilitating the project affected people who registered their protests. The protest was suppressed ruthlessly and the first phase of gorge filling was accomplished eventually. As the result the lands got submerged in July 2011. This was the beginning of a horrible plight for the affected population. For the last seven years the phenomenon is repeating with onset of the monsoon.

After the horrific experience of 2011, the project affected people decided to fight back for their survival. During the rainy season of 2012 they performed a 28 days Jal-Satyagraha during which they were standing in the reservoirs water. Since the gorge filling, resulting in submergence without rehabilitation is illegal the affected families demanded crop compensation. As the result, the then Relief and Rehabilitation Minister, Shri. Patangrao Kadam issued instructions to officers for submission of reports on following:-

(1) Whether the gorge filling was illegal?
(2) The extent of crop compensation payable and
(3) Preference for rehabilitation of each project affected person in writing and on camera

Report on all the three issues were duly received from the officers. However no compensation was ever paid to any of the project affected family. The next monsoon arrived as due and the submergence occurred as expected. The Satyagraha and fasting continued to be performed by the PAF. In 2013 Dharana agitation for 17 days and 13 days respectively and fasting agitation for 9 days of were performed in front of Satara Collectorate. The then Rehabilitation Minister, Shri. Patangrao Kadam and the State Water Resources minister Shri. Shashikant Shinde jointly agreed to the demand for compensation, but the Baboos in administration used their skills of spoiling the sport very effectively and ensured that the PAF are deprived of what they should ethically get! Finally all the relief proposals were buried. Later there was a change of Government, but the dam affected families remained unheard. The yearly submergence without rehabilitation continued. On the other hand the criminal cases lodged by the Government on the project affected persons – for protesting against the illegal gorge filling – kept on coming for hearing (tarikh pe tarikh!) in the court. Finally, looking to lack of positive response of the Government the project affected families have knocked the doors of the the High Court.

Meanwhile, in light of the fact that the alternative agricultural lands are not availability in Wang command area, the Wang-Marathwadi Dharangrast Kruti Samiti gave a proposal for their rehabilitation to the Government. Accordingly the rehabilitation gaothans – along with the necessary civic amenities – were proposed to be located above the Wang Reservoir fringe. Further in lieu of the alternative agricultural lands due, which the Government is not able to provide in the command area of the dam, cash compensation sufficient to buy the lands due shall be given by the Government. The Government response on this appeared positive; though with the subsequent change in Government the issue languished. Finally, the proposal moved forward in 2016. Guardian Minister of the Satara district and Minister of State for Water Resources, Shri. Vijay Shivatare gave a positive response during the meeting with the project affected people on the of rehabilitation demands. Number of meetings were held in Mantralaya, Divisional Commissioner, Pune and Collector, Satara. The long awaited orders have been issued after 4 months. The specifics are as mentioned here in above.

Apart from this, the process of cancellation of one sided (ex-party) allotments of agricultural lands in Sangli district, settling payment of interest due on (65%) withheld compensation, disbursement of sustenance allowance has gained momentum. So also the corrections in records are being carried out with the due diligence.

The credit of these positive steps in the process goes to thr Rehabilitation Minister Shri. Chandrakant Dada Patil, Minister of State for Water Resources Shri.Vijay Shivtare, MLC Shri. Narendra Patil and MLA Shri. Shamburaje Desai, BJP leader Shri.Bharat Patil. The positive approach taken by Divisional Commissioner Chandrakant Dalvi, Deputy Commissioner (Rehabilitation) Deepak Nalawade, Superintending Engineer, Satara Irrigation Project Circle, Satara Shri. Vijay Ghogare, District rehabilitation officers Satara and Sangli have been very helpful without which the issue could not have been sorted out. Earlier, the then District Collector, Satara and later Divisional Commissioner, Pune Division, Shri. Vikas Deshmukh and the then Collector, Satara, Shri. N. Ramaswamy did extend valuable cooperation.

The Wang-Marathwadi dam affected people have been in suffering for nearly 20 years and have wedged a tough struggle of 7 years. They are now set to get rehabilitated in a decent manner and on a path to a new life. Certain difficulties in rehabilitation of other villages – such as doing away with obstacles in the Tigadewadi and effecting the allotments of lands made to the project affected people, distributing the balance dues, solving pending problems of residential and agricultural land allotment to project affected people in Marathwadi and compensation to the project affected persons in Jinti need to be ironed out. We believe that this can be achieved by adopting a reconciliatory approach.

Our guide in this mass struggle are Medhatai Patkar and Sunitatai S. R.. Similarly Shri. Satish Bhingare, Dr. D.M.More, Prasadbhau, Hematai, Sadhnatai, Suhasatai, Madhuritai and last but not least Advocate Maharukh Adenwalla have been with us all along. We have fought and we have won the fight because of the involvement of our saathis, journalist friends, and our supporters all over the world. Thanks to them all.

We will fight. We will win ..
We have fought. We have won ..
Sunil Mohite  Jitendra Patil   Sunita Kanase   Pratap Mohite  Ganpat Pawar Khashaba Patil
President       Ex.president     Vice President     Secretary           Committee Members

And all the members of
Wang-Marathwadi Dharangrast Kruti Samiti
Affiliated to National Alliance of People’s Movements

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