Goa dam oustees still await rehabilitation

Panaji: Several hundred people in Goa who were displaced for the Selaulim dam project, which took shape over three decades ago in Sanguem taluka near here, are still waiting for their rehabilitation problems to be addressed.

Many villagers who were re-located to rehabilitation colonies across the dam are still facing drinking water shortage. Besides, several schemes promised to them by the government have not seen the light of the day.

The Selaulim dam is situated almost 100 kms away from Panaji and provides drinking water for 80 percent of Goa.

"But the people who had surrendered their lands for this project are yet to get basic facilities. There is no proper drinking water facility and also the farms which they were given as a part of rehabilitation package lacks irrigational facilities," Subhash Fal Desai, a legislator representing these areas told PTI.

The government procedure to acquire land from dozen small villages located across Selaulim river in Sanguem taluka had began in 1977.

"We are living just 500 metres from the place where dam water inundates the area. But we have to be dependent on bore well for potable water," said Sadanand Gawade, who left his ancestral village of Pottyan and settled here 27 years back.

Gawade said people were given huge farm plots but there is no water to irrigate it. "Government abandoned us after moving us out from our villages," he said.

The villagers feel cheated by the government. "There are 150 families who were given plots for farming. But their plots got submerged under dam water," Rajendra Gaonkar, another villager said.

These families are still waiting for the government to consider their plea for alternate land.

In yet another government promise that was never fulfilled, the state government constructed a building for a 35-bed hospital here with two operation theatres.

"The hospital was never made functional. People have to travel 100 kms to Panaji in case of emergencies. There are several people who have lost their lives on the way," Chandrakant Gawade, a village elderly said.

The issue of proper rehabilitation was raised during the recently concluded state legislative assembly session.

Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar had assured the House to look into the issue and solve it on a war footing basis, which has give hope to these villagers.

"With BJP government in power, things are expected to fall in place. The first indication was that health minister Laxmikant Parsekar recently visited the village and promised to repair and commission the hospital project," a villager said.