Hindustan Times: Shimla: Tuesday, 22 July 2014.
The long-drawn struggle for families displaced during the construction of the Maharana Partap Sagar dam - better known as the Pong dam in Kangra district is far from over. As the oustees continue to scout for chunk of land, the Rajasthan government has refused to provide information on cultivable land released by the central government for rehabilitation of the oustees.
The Centre had released 48,224 bighas of land from the central state farm to rehabilitate the Pong dam oustees. Large chunk of earmarked land lies at Jetsar of Vijaynagar tehsil in Rajasthan, which was in possession of the union ministry of agriculture. Land released by the union agriculture ministry had been cultivated by the state farm corporation. Chunk of cultivable land was allotted to 1942 Pong dam oustees between 1970 to 1975.
However, some land was allotted to a few Pong dam oustees and rest still lies with the Rajasthan government revenue department and canal development area. However, the Rajasthan government has now refused to divulge information about the current status of the land. Pradesh Pong Bandh Vishthapit Samiti had sought information about the land released by the central government under the Right to Information Act.
Contrary to it, the Rajasthan government has refused to provide information on the said the chunk of land.
“I had submitted the application under the RTI to the PIO-cum- Deputy District Collector Vijay Nagar for seeking complete information on the land that was released by the central government for rehabilitation of the ousteees,” said Ashwani Sharma, senior vIce-president of Pradesh Pong Baandh Vishapit Samiti.
“My application was disposed after two years of appeal. I urge the Rajasthan government to provided complete information about the land, so that I could be allotted land under the displaced families’ criterion. There is no fixed period set by the state information commission to hear the appeal,” said he.
The Pong dam project was conceived as part of larger project then known as the Rajasthan Canal Project (RCP), later rechristened as the Indira Gandhi Nahar Pariyoyajna. Total length of the canal is 649 kilometre, which takes water from the reservoirs to the desert land of Rajasthan. The process of the land acquisition started in the early 1960s.
Total 75,000 acres spread over 94 villages in Nurpur Dehra Gopipur tehsil of Kangra district was acquired for building a dam over the Beas river.
At the time of construction of dam in 1961, the government had acquired 339 tikkas - revenue estate, out of which 223 tikkas were submerged fully and 116 partially. The reservoirs displaced 30,000 families, affecting a population of 1,50,000.