28th Aug 2010
Left Dhadgaon at 7.30am
I headed for the rehabilitation site at Chikhl, Madhya Pradesh, 43 km from Dhadgaon. Chetan had given me directions till Masavad where someone would come to pick me up and take me to the site.
Kona Pawra came just as I was reaching the spot. He told me to wait till he poped inj the market. I thought I could grab some breakfast while he did that… breakfast quickly gobbled, not wanting to cause any delays, I sat on the bike ready to leave..A crowd of people gathered around me because of the side car… I had to answer all sorts of queries about myself and the bike.
At the rehabilitation site at Chikhli, I met Oarsing Guruji, Rahadya Pawra, Manglya Pawra, and Sukhlal Guruji. Between them they told me that they were shifted here in 2007
70 families have been allotted houses and farm plots…
of these12 from Bhadal Village, 3 from Atti, 2 from Udaddya and 1 from Sawariya… these 18 families have brought their building materials from the old house and rebuilt their houses.
The rest are living in transit camps on site for the past 3 years… these are made of tin sheets making them excellent ovens in summer months but kind of difficult to live in… there are no proper drains or sanitation facilities- for 3years… there has been no electricity- for 3years and no water connections to the houses- for 3years There are 4 hand pumps for 70 families, of which 3 have been broken- for the past 2years. There is no electricity as the person from whom the land was acquired had defaulted majorly on his electricity bills so the line was cut, the back log of payment remains to be cleared- for the past 3years.
The people who have built their own house were to be provided roof tiles by the government, they have not yet got them. Some went and bought their own so that they could shift in. The others are living with plastic sheets or hay on the roofs which is not a complete relief from the rain but they cant not live there as their belongings and other wood for further building is lying in the plot and if they were to live in the transit camp till the tiles arrived then their other belongings could be stolen.
The plots are a flat piece of land punctuated only by defunct electricity poles, and a very tall and a very dry water tank … what a striking contrast from the rolling lush green slopes of the Satpudas, the ample trees to collect fruit and honey and resin from, and the ever flowing Mother of rivers with it’s bounty full fish.
With such blazing precedents which sane person would want the rehabilitation package… nicely wrapped in paper that has corruption written all over and tied with a pretty bow of red tape?
Left for Badwani the NBA office in Madhya Pradesh… a 150 km journey that should have I taken me at the most 3 hours took me 7 hours …
I was really really worried about Rocinante, and praying this does not take a toll on it’s suspensions and front fork which takes the load of the sidecar… The Three Gorges Dam was still a long way.
But how much can I complain about the road or its non existence! While I inched along with deep furrows on my city bred forehead and expletives on my lips, I was amazed to see fellow riders with women and children, friends riding pillion with big smiles or in casual conversations.
Reached Badwani at 6:00 pm. The NBA office is a live-in office… everybody lives and works from there- from Medhatai to student interns to visitors. Asentered the office a French team that was making a film on the andolan was leaving the office, Shreekant another old acquaintance from the NBA greeted me over a pile of papers and files with a “Zindabad”(a customary greeting ) Medha Tai was on the phone, when she saw me she had a warm smile and with an approving nod pointed to a seat. She got up still in conversation about some irrigation canals, and got me a glass of water.
I freshened up had tea and started to crack the uploading of images on the blog with limited default software on the new laptop… which I had yet to figure (hence the first blog has only 2 images very high rez which took eons to upload)
Had a chat with Medha Tai about the current status, between talking to me, and on numerous phone calls including some from TV channels asking for comments, she was issuing instructions for what and how much to make for dinner. Shegave me some books and reports to go through. Later she tied me a Rakhi and rushed to the kitchen to cut cucumbers and tomatoes while we watched her on NDTV India arguing against the proposed amendments to the bill on land acquisition, and in favour of Development Planning Displacement and Rehabilitation Policy which was prepared by National Advisory Council.
Dinner was kadhi, khichadi and salad. After dinner Medha Tai before we knew it got busy doing the dishes, cleaning the mess of papers, clothes, folding mats …There were 12 of us -4 students from Tata Institute of Social Science, 2 from Delhi and other volunteers and full-timers- any of us could have done the chores she kept doing in her overstretched physical and mental faculties but she insisted… there was nothing that was of lesser importance.