Tribune News Service
Dharamsala, November 9
The Rajasthan Government has rejected the claims of 5,442 Pong Dam oustees, it is learnt. The issue cropped up at a meeting of a high-powered committee, comprising representatives of Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and the Union Government, in New Delhi on November 2.
The Rajasthan Government maintained that of the 16,300 oustees ‘recognised’ by Himachal Pradesh, they had not received claims by these 5,442 oustees. Hence, it was not liable to pay compensation to them. The Himachal Government, on the other hand, maintained that it had submitted the claims of all oustees to Rajasthan time and again. About 51 per cent Pong Dam water goes to Rajasthan’s Sriganganagar and Bikaner districts.
Among the 5,442 being denied compensation are those whose land was acquired for the dam lake, artisans and the landless. They were to be allotted houses or plots in Rajasthan. Manisha Nanda, Additional Chief Secretary, who attended the meeting, said: “The Rajasthan Government has rejected the claims of 5,442 oustees. We, however, continue to insist that these claims are legitimate. We have apprised Rajasthan of the recent state High Court order stating that the HP Government must provide land within the state to these left-out oustees and that Rajasthan should contribute towards paying for the land acquired for the purpose.”
MoU was signed way back in 1970
- The construction of Pong Dam near Talwara in Punjab began in 1962 and was completed in 1966. However, the lake behind the dam subsumed 330 villages in Guler valley, one of the most fertile areas in Himachal
- As per the 1970 MoU between Himachal and Rajasthan governments, the latter was to allot land to the Pong Dam oustees
- Initially, 20,362 oustees claimed compensation but only 16,300 claims were found to be legitimate
- Of the 11,300 oustees allotted land by Rajasthan, 700 are still fighting cases in various courts for possession
- Since the irrigated land for the oustees has been encroached upon, Rajasthan is now offering arid land to 2,501 oustees left out
With retrospective effect from January 1, 2016
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