17 February 2012, Khunti
On 17 February the Samvad Yatra reached Takbara region of khunti district where a public hearing had been organised by the ‘Koyal Karo Jansanghatan’. Speaker of the organisationn Shri Renjing Gudia said that in 1955-56 the Government of India and the then state government of Bihar announced that 710 Megawatts of electricity would be generated through the commissioning of the Koyal Karo Hydel Power Project that would be built on the Koyal and Karo rivers of the region. Under this project, it was said, 56,000 acres of land would be submerged affecting more than 150,000 people of 256 villages. The survey proceedings were begun in 1960 and construction started in 1977. The ‘Koyal Karo Jansanghatan’ also came into existence during this time and a non-violent movement against the project was started. In 1984 the organization filed a PIL in the Supreme Court and in 1985 the Supreme Court in its judgment said that the construction of the dam would commence only after all the displaced people were resettled. In 1986 the state government started deploying armed security forces in the region as a measure against the rising number of people’s movements against the project. Shri Vijay Ji of the ‘Koyal Karo Jansanghtan’ said that the people’s movement gained in strength as more and more women took on the leadership role and surrounded the entire project site as a result the state administration had to step back. On 2 February 2001 when the villagers announced their intention to begin their non-cooperation movement the administration deployed its police force and without any prior notice started firing on the gathered crowd. 8 people died in the firing and 35 were seriously injured while criminal cases were registered against 4000 people. Addressing the meeting the traditional tribal king Markat Kuria said that the people won in their battle against the Koyal Karo Project only because they were engaged in a mass based non-violent and non-cooperative struggle. He raised a pertinent issue in saying that how can any government justify any resettlement action of the tribal people when its simply impossible to culturally re-settle the tribal people. He further added that the Koyal Karo People’s Movement would continue till such time as the government gives written orders withdrawing the commissioning of the hydel power project. He said that this movement is powered by the support of the local people and continues to wage its struggle in the combined leadership of traditional panchayats of the region. The ‘Koyal Karo Jansaghatan’ announced its full support for Jansatyagrah 2012.
The second halt of the Samvad Yatra was at Tapkara village of Gumla district where a public hearing had been organised by the ‘Rehnuma Samajsewi Sanghatan’. Leader of the organization Shri Tana Bhagat said that the this region of Tapkara fell in the Palkot Sanctuary area therefore the administration had not taken any action on the 1700 claims that were filed by the people under the Forest Rights Act. He added that proposals for claims on common property resources such as land and forests were also submitted to the administration but so far no action had been forthcoming. Smt Vasumati said that for the Tapkara Dam land belonging to 300 tribal families has been acquired but till date the all those who will lose land to submergence have not been paid adequate compensation. At the same time the local people stand to gain nothing from the construction of the dam. Shri Lakhan said that in 1986 118 acres of bhoodan land was distributed to the landless dalit families but till date this land has not been transferred in their name leading to a growing sense of discontent among the local people. Leader of the sangahtan Shri Salim said that 300 people have already planned to participate in the Jansatyagrah 2012. All the villagers said that they would participate in the Jansatyagrah starting 2 October 2012.