Relocated villagers for Gullarghat to encroach forest land

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 10 Sep 2017 09:35:03


Special Correspondent,

Allege lack of facilities at relocated village

After addressing a meeting near Khatkali gate in Melghat Tiger Reserve by Rajkumar Patel, former legislator, on Saturday, around 1,200 rehabilitated tribals straight
way started for Gullarghat on foot in the evening to encroach upon their forsaken village lands to protest against poor facilities at the relocated places.
The mob gathered near Khatkali gate on Akot-Harisal road. Despite prohibited by police and Special Tiger Protection Force jawans, the irate people went inside the jungle towards Sulai Nullah Chowky. The mob told police and forestmen that they would not move till Patel pays visit to them. Patel had started from Dharni along with three others in jeep for Khatkali but was stopped at Dhakna gate.

Patel is learnt to have gone to the spot inside on a motorcycle and addressed the angry mob. He has allegedly provoked the villagers to capture the lands they were living in previously. After the meeting, the villagers/tribals started on foot towards Gullarghat, which is also a relocated village. They have decided to pass the night at Gullarghat and then travel towards their relocated villages -- Amona, Nagartas, Barukheda, Dhargad, Kelpani, Somthana-Khurd, Somthana-Budruk and Somthana-Khurd, all under Akot Wildlife Division of Melghat.

The relocated tribals are from the core area of Akot Wildlife Division under Melghat Tiger Reserve (MTR).
Reliable sources informed that the villagers want benefit of the new package announced by the government for giving agriculture land prices four times more than the market price. The land holders and villagers were given compensation package of Rs 10 lakh per family, land prices as per rules plus facilities at the new settlement areas. They said that they now want prices for lands as per the new announcement. In fact, there people were rehabilitated from 2013 to 2016 and are not liable to get the new package.

Around 200 STPF jawans, police, forest officers and field staff members were present at Khatkali to handle the tense situation. They appealed to villagers to go back but they refused to do so and marched towards Gullarghat. The authorities assured to solve their problems. The police carried 300 persons in their vehicles while rest of the people preferred to go to Gullarghat.

Akot: In all, eight villages were relocated from the core area of MTR. It includes Amona, Barukheda, Gullarghat, Dhargad, Nagartas, Somthana Khurd, Somthana Budruk and Kelpani. Forest officials started relocation of these villages since last five to six years. As per the laws, the tribals and other residents were given Rs 10 lakh per family and land for location of their new villages. But the residents are not satisfied and argued that Government officials have not provided essential civic amenities to them. The villagers are not satisfied with the water supply, electric supply, roads, and other facilities, it was learnt.

The villagers submitted a memorandum to forest officials on August 9 demanding proper facilities within a month and warned to move to their old villages if their demands are not met.

Today, the villagers gathered at Popatkhed village in Akot taluka. Ex-MLA Rajkumar Patel was leading the tribals. Forest officials, police officials were deployed near the entry gate at Shahanur. A discussion was held between the agitators and forest and revenue officials. The agitating people were firm to move to their old villages while the government machinery was trying to pacify them. The serious discussion started at about 12 noon and continued till 4 pm. Finally, the government machinery convinced the villagers and stopped them from entering the core area.

While speaking with media persons, Rajkumar Patel said, “Forest officials had not fulfilled the assurance given to tribals. Even after 5 to 6 years the relocated villagers and provided proper facilities,” he added.

Forest officials had then assured that one person from each relocated family will be given government job, self-employment to women, farm land will be given to relocated person. Moreover, Rs 1.65 lakh were deducted from the ten lakh given to each person. Fed up of this injustice tribals are now in position to re-enter their old villages,” added Patel. “However, I personally tried to avoid any untoward incident but my priority is tribals must get justice. Finally, officials assured the tribals that their demands were conveyed to higher authorities and it will be fulfilled as early as possible. Patel has threatened intense agitation on October 9 if their demands were not fulfilled.

Additional SP Vijaykant Sagar, SDO Uday Rajput. SDPO Rajendra Manware, Tehsildar Vishwanath Ghuge, DFO of Akot Wildlife Division Sharma, Rural PI Milind Bahakar, Range Forest Officer Sunil Wakode handled the situation peacefully.
Since the villagers were in the deep forest area, cell phones were not working which created hurdles in communication. The communication with higher officials were possible only due to wireless sets of forest officers.

Amravati: Large number of tribals from eight villages in Melghat region who were rehabilitated in Akot and Telhara tehsils in Akola District reached near Khatkali village to condemn the administration’s laxity in providing basic amenities to them. The agitation was staged under the leadership of Rajkumar Patel. Strong police bandobast was made at the spot to deal with the eventuality.

Rehabilitations of 8 villages under Melghat Tiger Project from Chikhaldara tehsil were done in Akot and Telhara tehsils between 2011 and 2015. Over 245 deaths were reported at these rehabilitated villages allegedly due to lack of facilities. These rehabilitated villages are deprived of basic amenities such as Gram Panchayat office, electricity, water, road, health and education. In the last five years several assurances were made but in vain. These villagers finally decided to return to their native places under the leadership of Rajkumar Patel. As per decision about 3,000 to 4,000 rehabilitated villagers reached the jungle at Khatkali village in Amravati district that come under Akot Wildlife Division. The agitation created tension in the forest area. Strong police bandobast by Amravati and Akola police was deployed to avoid any untoward incident.

However, Rajkumar Patel has organised a morcha in Dharni tehsil regarding these rehabiliated villagers on September 11.