BHANDARA: “There should be a legislation on development and planning in the country, so all schemes launched by the government or corporates are put before the gram sabha. So, if anything goes wrong with the scheme, details will be available under right to information act,” said noted environmentalist Medha Patkar at a public meeting in Paoni on Sunday.
Lok Shakti Abhiyan and Gosikhurd Prakalpgrast Sangharsh Samiti had jointly organized the public meeting.
Medha Patkar said big dams were constructed in Vidarbha in the name of development of irrigation, but a World Bank report says most rivers have dried up. “Big catchment and command areas of dams are dividing communities. Lives of project affected persons are thrown into chaos. A detailed report of profit and loss of the project should be released to the public. Rivers die, farmers, fishermen and others depending on them are the worst sufferers. So, people should have the right to know how the national wealth will be exploited before a project is launched,” she said.
Patkar also pointed out that lakhs of hectares is acquired for highways and flyover but it benefits very few persons.
She also lamented corruption in development projects by both government as well as private sector, which hurts project affected persons most. “There is corruption in building canals from dams too, and in fact more land is acquired for canals than for the submergence area. In Gosikhurd project too there have been complaints of sub-standard work of canals,” she said.
Patkar gave the example of Bhakra Nangal project, where two lakh hectares of land in command area has been spoiled due to canal water. “Gujarat farmers too have refused to give land for canal as rehabilitation for Sardar Sarover project is yet to be completed. Narmada Bachao Andolan has moved the court, which has stopped dam work till rehabilitation is done,” she said.
The activist also slammed the acquisition of land for MIHAN project of Nagpur at Rs 1.5 crore per acre, which land for other development projects is acquired for meagre amounts. She also said the Land Acquisition Act should be replaced with the Ownership Act, and below poverty line concept should be replaced with a line of affluence.