Friday, Jan 22, 2021 08:00 [IST]
Last Update: Friday, Jan 22, 2021 02:19 [IST]
GANGTOK,: After resettling the families displaced by 510 Mw Teesta-V power project from the project area to a resettlement colony at Lower Khamdong, the NHPC has allegedly left them to contend with issues of poor infrastructure since 2007-08.
There is no drinking water supply. Power supply was snapped within weeks. The health centre has been left to rot and other infrastructures are in tatters, as the residents alleges.
It is a clear case of ghettoization, if one were to go by the living conditions of these displaced residents. The colony’s units are inadequate when it comes to basic infrastructure.
“We have been staying here since 2007. In the first 14-15 days, the whole colony was lit up and Switzerland nai banai dinu bhayo. Thereafter, we have been facing lots of problems,” said Babina Tamang, who moved to the colony with her parents in 2008.
“It’s already been 12-13 years since we moved here. We don’t want to go anywhere, we don’t want anything special. All we need is basic amenities.”
The main office of the project has been built on the land where Babina’s house once was.
Babina’s family along with 54 other families were given a plot of land each at the resettlement colony after being displaced due to the mega hydel power project.
Among those displaced wholly are from Balutar, Amaley, Daring, Ralap, and Dikchu.
After the project was commissioned in 2008, the displaced families, about 20 of them, started building their houses on the allotted lands measuring 200 square feet each.
Santosh Adhikari, who also lost his land to the project, said: “About 10 per cent of the displaced families are well-off. It didn’t matter to them. But there are families who cannot afford to move to new locations.”
Of the 55 families, around 20 chose to stay in the colony and some of them stopped the construction of houses halfway after cracks started developing.
While some families managed to move to new locations, those who are presently staying in the colony are at their wits end.
If the colony had basic amenities, people wouldn’t have left in search of new homes, added Banita.
There are presently only two families and their relatives, who have settled into the unoccupied houses, in the colony.
They, on their part, continue to live in the hope that the NHPC or State government will provide infrastructural facilities and basic minimum amenities to ensure that the resettled population in the colony can secure for themselves a reasonable standard of life.
The residents said the government and NHPC authorities, which own the power project, should take the responsibility.
The colony lacks basic civic amenities. A dispensary signage still hangs there, even though the dispensary never functioned.
Among urgent provisions for facilities to be provided in the resettlement colony include drinking water supply.
The taps ran dry within few days of resettlement, the residents said.
“We are paying Rs. 200 per hour for water to fill up our tanks. We are helpless. Centre doesn’t listen to us and the State won’t accept us. We don’t know where to go,” said Bina Tamang, a retired NHPC worker.
“People should get at least the basic facilities. We don’t have any agenda,” added Adhikari.
“The project affected us in terms of the loss of agricultural land, housing structures, markets, health centres and schools among others,” the residents added.
“We have been given a plot of land each but we don’t own the land. No parcha was issued. All we have is the plot number,” said Lakpa Tamang.
The people in the colonies harbour hope on the SKM government.
“We, all of us, have high hopes on the new government. Hopefully they will look into the matter and intervene. The previous government despite our multiple attempts did not listen to us. We are confident the new government will hear our grievances,” said Adhikari.
“We can’t directly blame the State government but it is their duty to look after its people. The voiceless need the government’s support.”
Lakpa informed that Chief Minister P.S. Golay had mentioned about the colony and had promised to do something at one of the SKM public meetings before the party came to power.
The residents added that as long as they receive all the facilities they are entitled to, they won’t mind whether the NHPC or the government provides that.