The residents of four villages in Jharkhand's SeraikelaKharsawan district face the risk of displacement from the Suru Medium Irrigation Project. Under the project, the state's Department of Water Resources plans to irrigate some 4,000 hectacres of farmland by building a reservoir on the Suru River. While this would benefit farmers throughout the reservoir's newly irrigated area, the creation of the dam is likely to inundate the neighbouring villages of Chaitanpur, Raziama, Redadah and Barsiadah.
The project was conceived in 1982, but work did not begin until 2005. Moreover, the state did not secure the consent of the villagers, violating the Forest Rights Act, 2006. It has also failed to offer them a resettlement and rehabilitation package.
In March 2017, Sujeeta Tudu, a community correspondent for Video Volunteers, a human rights nonprofit, documented how the project has affected her community. Protests have been held twice so far, during which at least seven persons have been subjected to tear gas.
SeraikelaKharsawan Land Reform Deputy Collector Kunj Bihari Pandey told Tudu that he was not the concerned authority and that the villagers should submit an application to the appropriate official.
The local people have also submitted several Right to Information applications to the district collector to halt the construction of the dam, but they have yet to receive a satisfactory response from the government. Sunalal Munda, one of the affected farmers, said, We have not received any other land where we can move to.
Meanwhile, work on the dam continues in the absence of a clear resettlement and rehabilitation plan from the state. According to the Department of Economic Affairs, only about two per cent of the work was completed as of April 2016.
The project now has a revised deadline of December 31, 2019.
Type of Land
Private and Common
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Government Bodies Involved in the Conflict:
Water Resources Department, Government of Jharkhand, Revenue, Registration and Land Reforms Department, Government of Jharkhand, Forest Department, Jharkhand
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Legislations Involved in the Conflict:
Land Acquisition Laws, Forest Rights Act of 2006
Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:
Non-implementation / violation of the FRA
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