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30 YEARS LATER, A TRIBAL TRIUMPH

For most people in Jharkhand, the Koel Karo project has been a familiar name since the last three decades.The project was initiated by the then Bihar government in 1973 with the objective of harnessing the Koel and Karo rivers to produce hydroelectric pwer.In 1980, the National hydroelectric corporation(NHPC) was given the task of building dams on the two rivers.Since the announcement of the project it was vehemently opposed by the tribals in Gumla, Ranchi and Singhbhum districts of Jharkhand.They felt the project would submerge a large part of their agricultural land and a number of religious places, especially forest groves calles sarnas that have from ancient times, been considered sacred by the tribals.
Official assessment of the projects scope showed the number showed the number of villages affected to be 42. This was revised to 112.Tribal leaders however claimed that 256 villages would come under the projects submergence area.Also 50,000 acres of forest area and 40,000 acres of agricultural land would be affected besides 300 sarnas,175 churches and 120 mandirs.

Although the govt. offered to resettle the affected villages, the tribals insisted on a total resettlement package. The Koel Karo Jan Sanghatan (formed by the tribals to oppose the project) demanded for resettlement, provided it was total ,social, environmental, religious factors would be considered.They proposed that 2 villages be resettled as a model.If the people were satisfied they would go ahead with the resettlement.However the govt. decided to go ahead with the project.Police were despatched to the area in 1985,. The tribals boycotted the police personnel.They were not allowed to set up their camps and no daily provisions were sold to them..making their daily existance difficult.The project died down.In 1995, PV Narasimha Rao, the then Prime Minister decided to lay the foundation stone.More than 30,000 people mostly tribals agitated.Police opened fire and 8 people were killed. The stone laying was postponed.The Jan Sanghatan then resolved not to hold any more talks for resellement. the Sanghatan thrives from the 16,000 families, most of whom contribute 100rs. a year for the cause.
In 2005, the govt. scrapped the project.But the Sanghatan vows to spread awareness till the project is officially announced as closed in the gazette.They share their experiences with the Narmada bachao andolan and Singur...
source: The Times of India.
If it happpened in Jharkhand,Bastar is not far away...............

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posted by Resistance 7/19/2007 10:10:00 PM,

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