Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Part 3: Villagers fight back

Mulshi, Maval ready to take on Tatas


For decades, farmers from Maval and Mulshi talukas have silently watched the far-away Mumbai city thrive by using the energy produced on their land using water in their region. But now with the Tatas proposing yet another dam near Chinchavli that will impound enough water to produce 100 MW of power, the villagers have decided that enough is enough.

They are set to launch an offensive against the Tata move, which is likely to submerge eight villages spread over 14,500 acres, just the way 109 villages had lost over 58,000 acres from 1917 for the six dams built earlier.

In a distant echo from the past, when Senapati Bapat had led the famous Mulshi Satyagraha against the Tata dams, the farmers are again gearing up for a big ?ght.

“We will not let Tatas build the dam,” said Indubai Enpure, sarpanch of Chinchavli and three villages. “We demand free power and water. If not free, power and water must at least be subsidised. We can’t sit and watch a dam being constructed and our people being relocated without something tangible in return,” she said.

“If the Tatas and the authorities try to evict us by force, we will have to resort to other means,” Enpure warned.

Activist and former Bhambarde sarpanch Eknath Dighe said, “The lease granted by the state to the Tatas expires in 2014. By initiating work on a new project, the company thinks it can get the lease extended. We will oppose that until we get a signed agreement accepting our demands.” Maval villagers have pre pared over 1,100 affidavits for submission to a court. The affidavits seek free power and water from the Tatas.

“When resources of an area are used in a project, local citizens have the first right to the output. The tehsildar’s office has no legal documents to show that our lands were acquired and compensation paid.

So our demand for free water and power for 24 hours is justified,” points out Tata Dharan Grast Sangharsh Samiti secretary Niketan Palkar.

Scores of activists like Dighe and Palkar are trying to educate villagers about the dangers of allowing a new dam. “Lack of awareness has allowed outsiders to grab what belongs to us.

Even now, the impression is that it is pointless to fight for what is lost. But we will try to ensure that future generations don’t have to go through what we did,” says Dighe.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It was nice to see these stories. I am a media student in Mumbai and it is nice to see that there are still some people who are willing to do work that is aimed at improving people's lives. Adarsh
S?ingh, Navi Mumbai