Rehabilitation of Pong Dam Oustees in Rajasthan Pending for Over 50 Years

Reported by

Ashish GaurLand Conflict Watch

Last updated on

September 14, 2021

Location of Conflict

Gamnewala

Jaisalmer

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Hydroelectric Project

Non-rehabilitation of displaced persons

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

7000

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

50644

ha

Starting Year

1972

State

Rajasthan

Sector

Power

The Pong Dam was built in 1974 in Kangra district in Himachal Pradesh. More than 30,000 people in 339 villages were displaced from at least 75,268 acres of land for the project In 1970, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the governments of Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan to rehabilitate people in Rajasthan's Jaisalmer, Ganganagar and Bikaner districts. The reason was that the water from the dam was going to irrigate these regions through the Indira Canal Project. The Rajasthan government framed the Rajasthan Colonisation (Allotment of Government land to Pong Dam Oustees in the Rajasthan Canal Colony) Rules, 1972, which assured that eligible families will get irrigated land in the Canal's command area. Under the Rules, 16,352 families were eligible for rehabilitation in Rajasthan. But by 1992 only 9,196 allotments had been made, and out of them 6,658 allotments were cancelled by the Rajasthan government for violations of the 1972 Rules. The cancellations took place in context of the challenges faced by the displaced people, who belonged to the hill region and found it difficult to get used to the desert environment in Rajasthan. There was also a lack of amenities like electricity, roads and drinking water near the agricultural and household lands provided to them. Many oustees either abandoned their lands or sold them illegally. Some oustees have also alleged that they were intimidated by local people and forced to leave. In 1992, a forum of oustees known as Pradesh Pong Bandh Visthapit Samiti Rajasthan filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court regarding these issues. In its 1996 judgement the court constituted a committee led by the secretary to the union ministry of water resources, and with one secretary from each state government as members, to carry out and complete the rehabilitation. It also appointed a District Judge in Rajasthan to verify all cancellations made after 1992 and investigate claims of intimidation. However, the rehabilitation was not completed. In August 2008, the revenue ministers of both states met in Shimla and agreed to form two committees to resolve the issue: a standing committee led by the revenue secretary of Rajasthan and with representatives from oustees to resolve their grievances, and a subcommittee with representatives from both states and oustees to select appropriate land for rehabilitation. The sub committee carried out field inspections in the same month and found that land earmarked for rehabilitation was not suitable for cultivation and that there was not enough irrigated land available to accommodate all eligible oustees. As on December 2018, 12,027 allotments had been made by Rajasthan, according to data submitted by Himachal Pradesh government in the state assembly. Only 8,009 of these are in possession of land in Rajasthan, according to the data. In total, 8,343 families are awaiting rehabilitation of these 2,180 families were never allotted land while the rest are awaiting reversal of cancellation of land. On December 10, 2018, the Himachal Pradesh High Court ordered the two states to hold a meeting to resolve the issue. The Himachal Pradesh government offered to buy land for the dam oustees in the state itself, provided the Rajasthan government paid for the land. But the latter refused, saying that the land price in Himachal Pradesh was too high and that it could not afford it. In February 2019, the Rajasthan government agreed to provide land to the remaining oustees in Rajasthan itself. In September 2020, one of the oustees filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court demanding that the rehabilitation be completed. The court has issued notices and the matter is expected to be heard in January 2021. In March 2021, While responding on a question on the rehabilitation of the outsees in Assembly, Himanchal Pradesh Forest Minister Rakesh Patania said: "As per latest information, out of a total 16,352 families declared eligible for allotments in Rajasthan, 6,355 families are yet to be settled against which 2020 cases are pending with the Rajasthan government for allotment."

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand for promised land, Demand for rehabilitation

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Common

Type of Common Land

Non-Forest (Other than Grazing Land)

Total investment involved (in Crores):

Type of investment:

Year of Estimation

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Other, Land Acquisition Laws

Legislations/Policies Involved

  1. Rajasthan Colonisation (Allotment of Government land to Pong Dam Oustees in the Rajasthan Canal Colony) Rules, 1972

    As per the rules, the government of Rajasthan must reserve land in specific areas of the Rajasthan Canal Colony for allotment to people who were ousted because of the canal project. The rules also provide for the procedure of allotment of the land so reserved, and the terms and conditions of this allotment.

  2. The Rajasthan Colonisation Act, 1954

    Section 28: State government has the power to make rules to implement the provisions and purposes of the Act.

  3. Land Acquisition Act, 1894

    Section 4: Publication of preliminary notification; Section 5A: Hearing of objections to the land acquisition notification; Section 6: Declaration that land is required for a public purpose; Section 9: Notice to persons interested; Section 11: Enquiry and award by collected; Section 15 read with Sections 23 and 24: Matters to be considered and neglected while determining the amount of compensation; Section 17(3A)(a): Collector must tender 80% of compensation for land as estimated by him before taking possession of any land.

Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community? What was the decision of the concerned government department?

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Non-rehabilitation of displaced people, Delay in allotment and possession of land/property

Legal Status:

In Court

Status of Case In Court

Pending

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

Supreme Court of India

Case Number

WP (C) 1140/2020

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

Displacement

Whether criminal law was used against protestors

Official name of the criminal law. Did the case reach trial?

Reported Details of the Violation:

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest

Complaints, petitions, memorandums to officials

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Government of Himachal Pradesh, Government of Rajasthan, Department of water Resources in Union Ministry of Jal Shakti

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Yes

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Revenue Secretary, Rajasthan Revenue secretary, Himachal Pradesh Secretary, Dept of Water Resources, Ministry of Jal Shakti

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

N/A

Name, Designation and Comment of Corporate Authorities Approached

Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:
No Images Available

Documented By

Ashish Gaur

Reviewed By

Ashish Gaur

Updated By

Ashish Gaur

Edited By

Ashish GaurLand Conflict Watch
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