Gurez villagers displaced under Kishanganga dam project remain deprived of proper rehabilitation

File Representational Pic
File Representational Pic

Bandipora, July 21: The residents of Badwan village in Gurez valley of north Kashmir's Bandipora district staged a protest to demand the fulfillment of the promises made by the government and the Kishanganga power project authorities.

The Badwan villagers, comprising 158 households, were "fully affected" by the construction of the dam for the Kishanganga power project, as they had to relocate from their ancestral land and homes. Although the villagers were "compensated" for their land and property, they said that several other promises remained unfulfilled.

Irshad Ahmad Samoon, one of the affected villagers and the head of the newly formed committee, said that the authorities had promised them government jobs or employment packages, scholarship schemes on the pattern of the Parbati project in Himachal Pradesh, and monthly benefits for the displaced people.

The project construction began in 2009 and was completed in 2017. When the water was drawn to the dam, the entire Badwan village had to be evacuated. The 158 villagers were given 5 lakhs each for one kanal of land, but they had to pay 22 lakhs or more for new plots in nearby Wampora village, Irshad shared. "As a result, many villagers could not afford to buy new homes in neighbouring Wampora and had to relocate to other places."

He said that many of the villagers are still "struggling to get permanent status or residence certificates", as they have "no fixed address." He urged the government or the Kishanganga authorities to construct colonies for them to ease their suffering in the village.

He also expressed his concern that despite being "fully affected" by the project, only two or three people from the village got jobs in it. "The government should give us more opportunities as we have lost everything because of this project," he said.

The villagers said that they have approached the local administration several times with their grievances, but nothing has been done so far. "We are protesting peacefully to draw the government's attention to our plight. We will continue with our protests until our demands are met," he added.

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