At the protest site every morning, a board is updated with the names of the protesters for the day.

250 days on this Telangana village refuses to budge against a reservoir project
news News Sunday, February 12, 2017 - 12:07

It has been 250 days since residents of Vemulaghat, a village that lies in Telangana's Medak district, off the Hyderabad-Siddpet highway, decided to take a stand.

Taking objection to the way land was being acquired by the Telangana government for the Mallannasagar Reservoir Project, the villagers have been on a continuous relay hunger strike, despite government pressure.

Last week, the villagers completed 250 days on Thursday, but have no plans to stop until their demands are met.

The Mallannasagar project, which seeks to divert water to drought-hit regions of the state, will submerge 14 villages in the district. When the project was initially announced, large-scale protests broke out in eight of the 14 villages.

The village of Erravalli, which is also one of the villages adopted by KCR, became the epicenter of these protests, culminating in a lathicharge on July 24 last year, that injured close to fifty villagers.

Since then, most villages have caved in. Vemulaghat remains the sole point of protest.

At the protest site every morning, a board is updated with the names of the protesters for the day, and mentions the number of days since the hunger strike began. Groups of men and women take turns everyday to sit on strike.

"We have no plans of stopping. Nothing can bring down the morale of the villagers. Everyday, without fail, at least five people turn up to fast, while someone sincerely erases and updates the board," Hayatuddin, a teacher, and one of the residents of the village tells The News Minute.

The villagers say that they are willing to give in their land, if it is acquired under the Land Acquisition Act of 2013, rather than under a Government Order issued by the state.

At present, the government has assured villagers of compensation of Rs 6 lakh for every acre of farmland and a 2-BHK house near Gajwel, in exchange for their house sites.

However, the villagers of Vemulaghat distrust the offer, and fear that they will lose their lands while the promised compensation gets caught in bureaucratic red tape.  

The villagers have also moved court over several issues.

In July last year, the state had imposed section 144 in the village, until the High Court ordered the prohibitory orders to be removed at the end of September.

In September, the state government issued GOs 123 and 214, through which it sought to compensate and rehabilitate oustees, while the villagers demanded that compensation be given according to the 2013 Land Acquisition Act.

The Hyderabad HC, while hearing the case, had said that GO 123 violated the 2013 Act, and ruled in favour of the villagers.

The villagers have also submitted multiple RTI applications and petitions demanding to see the detailed project report (DPR), permissions taken so far for construction, the reservoir’s capacity, the quantum of  land purchased, and other details related to the project.

Last month, many oustees also started a campaign, to send post cards to the President.

However, the villagers have drawn the state government's ire, as they have accused 'opposition parties' of trying to stall the project, and have also accused the protesters of acting against the best interests of the state.

The News Minute had visited villages protesting against the project, when it was first announced. Read our earlier ground reports below.


 

Read:

Reservoir of fear: Telangana villages are fighting KCR over Mallannasagar

A tale of two suicides: The families that Telangana's Mallanasagar project is destroying

 

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