Aruna Dam, a mediumirrigation project in Sindhudurg district in Maharashtra, will reportedly submerge three villages in Vaibhavwadi tehsil Bhom, Akavne and Nagapwadi. Tanaji Kamble, a projectaffected person (PAP), filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Bombay High Court in April 2019 alleging corruption in the construction of the dam and seeking rehabilitation on behalf of the PAPs of the three villages.
According to media reports, the PIL states that the amount given towards compensation is insufficient to build tenements in the new premises and urges the state to establish a new settlement for the PAPs. The PIL also alleges that the state has issued tenders from time to time for irrigation and rehabilitation of PAPs but that the work has not been completed within the stipulated time, with the ulterior motive of raising the cost of the project to the current 1,689 crore.
However, officials involved in the project have refuted these claims. Work on the dam began only after all the required permissions were sought and the projectaffected people were rehabilitated, they stated in response to the PIL. The officials said that the PAPs were provided temporary huts with tin roofs in their villages in December 2018, which they could occupy until the end of May, and that they refused to do so.
A Comptroller and Auditor General report, however, notes that there was a delay in the release of funds and timely disposal of relief and rehabilitation measures, which led to protests and demands for payment of compensation as per the new rate prescribed under the Land Acquisition Act, 2013. One such protest went on for a month in August 2018, when 84 PAPs sat on a hunger strike against the inadequate compensation.
Sunil Nagap, another PAP, has filed a writ petition in the Bombay High Court alleging lack of rehabilitation and that landowners were not issued notices for land acquisition. Both Kambles and Nagaps petitions are currently being heard.
The Aruna Dam has a capacity of 93.4 cubic metres and will irrigate 5,310 hectares of land in Vaibhavwadi. The project was granted administrative approval in 1995 at an estimated cost of 53.94 crore at the 199394 pricelevels. The dam was scheduled for completion in 2000, but construction work started only in 2006. The new deadline for completion is December 2019.