The government of Maharashtra took a decision about 7 years ago to construct 8 dams in Thane district. The purpose of constructing these dams was to overcome the problem of water shortage in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Thane city etc. These dams are not being constructed keeping in mind the concerns of the farmers and adivasis living in the project affected villages. These people suffer from problem of water shortage round the year. If these dams are constructed the problem of water shortage in fact will worsen for them. Furthermore, many villages will be submerged and the people forcibly displaced.
The bitter experience of villagers in areas where dams have been constructed in the past is making project affected people resist the construction of dams in their areas. Mumbai & Thane cities receive water from far off places like Bhatsa, Tansa and Vaitarna dams. At the time these dams were constructed, thousands of farmers and adivasis were displaced. But government neither gave them adequate compensation nor properly relocated them. The people who live around these dams even now are also not getting any water from these dams. In the 90’s, Surya dam was constructed in Vikramgarh tehsil of Thane district. People of 12 villages were affected by that dam. Their experience with the government is also extremely bad.
The struggle is intense especially over the Shai, Kalu, Pinjar and Poshir dams. In Shai dam area there are 8 gramsabhas. Since 2005 these gramsabhas have many times passed resolutions unanimously rejecting the Shai dam proposal. On October 12th, 13th and 14th, all the 12 gramsabhas from the Kalu dam area passed a resolution unanimously rejecting the Kalu dam. But the construction activity was started in some places using police and goondas. Forcible land acquisition has also begun.
In the past issue of Mazdoor Ekta Lehar on Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant, we had pointed out that all the gramsabhas of that area have repeatedly rejected the Jaitapur project. But the government has forcibly started the project work. All these examples prove once again beyond doubt that the declarations of Government of “involving the village people in decision making” are just empty slogans to fool the people.
On the issue of these dams, government is trying to portray that this issue is that of a conflict between the rural and urban population. Government is trying to portray that it has great concern about those living in cities. But this is a big lie. Working people living in cities neither get neither water nor electricity. All the working people in cities know very well that all such projects are inspired by the capitalist motive of maximum private profit. The interests of all the working people, whether they are from cities or in villages, are common. Both are in dire need of water and electricity. It is indeed possible to prepare plans which can take care of these interests and satisfy the needs of all the working people while at the same time in harmony with environmental considerations. But for that to happen, it is necessary that the power should be in the hands of the workers and peasants of our country and not in the hands of capitalists.
Mazdoor Ekta Lehar condemns the government for forcibly implementing the dam projects in spite of people’s opposition. We fully support the farmers and adivasis who are opposing these projects. The wellbeing of workers, peasants, adivasis and all the working people can be guaranteed only by establishing rule of the working people.