After Pattiseema Lift Irrigation project was completed in just one year, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu has been announcing to finish Vamsadhara and Polavaram projects by the years 2018 and 2019 respectively, but, perhaps at the cost of the life of farmers who gave up their lands for the massive dams.
Tensions continue in the project villages of Vamsadhara in Srikakulam district as more than 500 police personnel were deployed there to prevent any objections to the construction of the project. While hundreds of poor farmers are yet to claim the rehabilitation package, the district officials have issued notices in the first week of October that the villages in the submergence zone will be evacuated from 22 October and the villagers were told to move to the resettlement and rehabilitation colonies.
In a meeting conducted by Regional District Officer R. Gunnaya, the village representatives of Chinna Sankari, Barripeta and Bhimavaram were told to move away from their homes and evacuate their villages. With farmers affirming that they will continue staying in their villages until every family is meted with proper compensation according to Land Acquisition Act, 2013, tension has intensified.
Speaking to Newsclick in anonymity, a resident of Chinna Sankari village (which has a predominant Dalit population) said “50 families in the village haven’t received the amount sanctioned for constructing new houses and if officials forcefully evacuate us from the village, it will only render us homeless further worsening our living conditions,”. He said that the government must allow them to stay in the current villages until their new homes are ready to be occupied, which might take some more months.
Against the suppression being meted to ‘displaced’ people in the name of irrigational projects, left parties- CPI(M) and CPI in the state have called for a two-day agitation on 16, 17 October to be held in Vijayawada, Amaravathi, State Capital. This agitation is mainly to address the agony of people displaced due to various projects within the state including Polavaram and Vamsadhara projects.
In a press release, CPI(M) has condemned the Andhra Pradesh government’s tactics in suppressing the rights of the farmers affected by the project. It condemned the arrests of state secretary P. Madhu along with 40 other activists who went to join the peaceful protest “Chalo Vamsadhara” against the district administration’s move of shifting the evictees to the resettlement colonies.
Kapavarapu Venkata Jagannadha Rao, Vice President, Human Rights Forum, said to Newsclick that hundreds of project victims rights will get abused if the officials evacuate them without compensating them fairly. He said that with the consent of a section of farmers, they are planning a legal battle to claim their rights. Earlier to a writ petition filed by him, the state High court ruled in favor of the victim farmers where the court has identified that standing crops in these villages were destroyed due to project works and called the government officials to compensate for them.