MLA leads protest march by Pong oustees

DHARAMSALA: The issue of Pong dam oustees that has been lingering for the past more than 60 years is again in limelight.

MLA leads protest march by Pong oustees

Pong displaced families at the site.

editorial@tribune.com

Lalit Mohan

Tribune News Service

Dharamsala, June 24

The issue of Pong dam oustees that has been lingering for the past more than 60 years is again in limelight. Hundreds of dam oustees, led by Independent MLA Hoshiar Singh, carried out a candle light march and gathered near the Pong dam lake.

The MLA and a number of youths from the area shaved their heads in support of thousands of the oustees, who were forced to migrate from their lands. Some of them suffered humiliation during relocation facing resistance from the locals.

Hoshiar Singh said the Supreme Court had ruled in 1996 that the land allotted to the oustees in Sriganganagar district of Rajasthan should be given to them. Despite the SC order, the oustees have not been allotted the land. Instead, they are being offered land in arid areas of Bikaner district by the Rajasthan Government. Many farmers found that the land in Sriganganagar was in possession of local residents.

Hoshiar Singh said now the Pong dam oustees had been left with two options. Either the Rajasthan Government or the Union Government should provide them cash compensation on the pattern of the Narmada dam oustees or the Himachal Government should return their lands. If these demands were not met, the oustees would not allow the BBMB to fill the Pong lake and would reclaim their land.

The Pong oustees from HP have been fighting with the Rajasthan Government for over 50 years to get land allotted to them. Rajasthan was the major beneficiary of the project.

The oustees have been running from pillar to post all these years to get the irrigated land reserved for them in Sriganganagar and Anupgarh districts. The Rajasthan Government, instead of removing the encroachers, had been offering the oustees land in Bikaner district which, they said, was not fertile.

The office of DC, Relief and Rehabilitation, formed especially by the state government for the welfare of the Pong oustees, has failed to even maintain proper data about oustees.

As per the information gathered by The Tribune, the office has been giving ambiguous data regarding eligibility certificates issued to the oustees. In a letter written to the Financial Commissioner-cum-Secretary (Revenue) on April 1, the DC, Relief and Rehabilitation, has stated that 16,352 oustees were found eligible for allotment of land in Rajasthan out of 20,722 affected families.

Of those found eligible, 15,124 have been issued eligibility certificates for allotment of land, while 1,228 have not applied for allotment of land.

However, in an affidavit to the High Court, the same office has stated that 12,142 oustees had submitted their applications for allotment of land and 11,668 eligibility certificates had been issued.

SC ruling not implemented: Hoshiar Singh

  • The MLA said the Supreme Court had ruled in 1996 that the land allotted to the oustees in Sriganganagar district of Rajasthan should be given to them 
  • Despite the SC order, the oustees have not been allotted the land 
  • Instead, they are being offered land in Bikaner district. Many farmers found that the land allotted to them was already in the possession of locals
  • The state government, instead of removing the encroachers, had been offering the oustees land which, they said, was not fertile.

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