Dharmendra Pradhan
Dharmendra Pradhan

Dharmendra seeks extended compensation to Rengali displaced families

Bhubaneswar: Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Monday requested Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to provide extended compensation to displaced families of the Rengali Multipurpose Dam project and fulfill all seven demands. 

In the letter to the Chief Minister, Pradhan informed that the dam project on the Brahmani River is the second-largest dam project in Odisha. 

While it greatly increased the state’s irrigation and power generation capacity, the project has left thousands of displaced families in perpetual misery for the last four decades. It has hurt us, the Minister wrote. 

In 1973, 263 villages in Angul and Deogarh districts were submerged in water and about 13,000 families became homeless. Many had to suffer due to a lack of resettlement and compensation. Residents were forced to be replaced without any gram sabha, palli sabha or public hearing. By now, they have held many protests, hunger strikes for justice. However, there is no change in their condition. 

Late Pabitra Mohan Pradhan, the leader of the Gadajat Movement, once called for a movement for the rights of the displaced. In his absence, due to the lack of strong leadership, the victims have not received justice, which is unfortunate. More than 80 percent of the poor families, tribals, farmers, and backward classes feel neglected and humiliated today because they do not have the means to approach the doors of the courts. They have even considered this as the stepmotherly attitude of the State government towards the Gadajat region.

The displaced families are now staging Satyagrah seeking to fulfill their legitimate seven demands. Even they have threatened to take watery graves in the reservoir. So the State government should act on this sensitive issue and provide all their dues, hoped Pradhan. 

The seven demands include compensation of Rs 50,000 per acre, provision of permanent leases, permanent job for a member of each displaced family, ration card and health insurance scheme for the families, provision of lifetime free electricity generated at Rengali Power House, and immediate implementation of Chakdhar Samakoi project. Besides, they have demanded the identification and registration of Hindu gods and goddesses and priests and the renovation and development of temples.