The Team visited Vinobha Bhave’s village and Ashram in Raigarh district. There was a meeting of villagers in Varsayi next to Gagode village, the birth place of Vinobhaji organized by Sramik Kranti Sangatan. The Sangatan leader Surekha Dalvi gave a brief view of the state of Raigarh district. Basically dominated by tribal population and known for cultivation, the district is one of the most affected next to Thane because of its location. New industrial and infrastructure developments like the international airport, fertilizer companies, Reliance Oil company at Patalganga, ONGC etc are playing havoc with the land, water and forest resources of the native people. 20% of the district is under the control Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation(MIDC). There are 13 dams in the district which mainly supply water to New Bombay.
Many people and voluntary organizations are in continuous struggle against the development projects that displace the natives from their soil. People urged a referendum against the Reliance SEZ area and as a result it was stopped. Similarly now people are in the process of bringing a referendum against two dams. According to them, the water is meant for companies and for new Bombay area. CIDCO has already completed 60% of Balganga dam even before acquiring land from the public. No notice or permission obtained from the people who are affected by the dam. Nothing was discussed so far about the price of the land or any rehabilitation package. Eight villages are affected. Nine tribal hamlets from 8 villages will submerge fully when the dam is completed.
The dam is going to benefit private companies, not farmers. People have protested and written to the Prime Minister and all higher authorities, but no consideration has been given to all their voices, it has already started. The interesting part is that the dam is meant for the projected population in New Bombay for the year 2024. Moreover the Environment Impact Assessment Report of 1996 is taken as the base. No new study has been conducted so far.
The MLA of the constituency, Mr. Dariashil Mohan Patil, who is actively involved in the people’s struggle support them very much. He referred to the non violent way of bringing referendum in case of SEZ. He mentioned that there is a need to fight together for each cause, displacement, farmers, landless, tenants and other exploitations. Now only the air is left for ownership and acquisition; all the other resources water, land, forest, minerals, coal, oil etc.,have already been exploited and owned.
Shri Vijaybhai of Vinobha Ashram strongly felt the need for all the organizations and struggles coming together and fighting together. The Jan Samwad Yatra is a move towards uniting all the struggles across the country.