March 25, 2023

In UP’s Sonbhadra, 11 villages prepare to vote one last time | India News – Times of India

LUCKNOW: Vishwanath Kharwar awaits his last election as a voter from Sundari village in UP’s Sonbhadra district with a sense of inevitability that has been part of his life for 45 years.
Back in 1976, when the foundation stone of the Kanhar dam project was laid, Vishwanath was barely 10. Four and a half decades later, the time of reckoning seems to have arrived for Sundari and 10 other villages of Duddhi constituency that will be swamped by the waters of the Kanhar river once the project is operational by the end of this year.
“A large part of our lives has gone by waiting for the project to commence. But when things started moving, we were handed a raw deal. Each family is getting Rs 7.11 lakh in lieu of their land,” Vishwanath said, demanding a hike in compensation.
Residents of all 11 villages that will cease to be a part of the Duddhi assembly seat, numbered 403 among that many constituencies in UP, seem to battling similar feelings as the polls draw nearer.
“Things will change for good after this election. The river will flow into our land, and we will all be scattered in different parts of Sonbhadra. I can only pray that our last vote from our village ensures a better future,” said Rani Devi of Sugwaman.
Speaking for 25,000-odd voters from the 11 villages, which have a combined population of around 50,000, former village head Gambhira Prasad of Korchi has been approaching various political parties in the hope of getting a patient hearing at election time. “Parties lend us an ear only during polls. We have decided to support those who promise to do something for us,” he said.
Irrigation department officials said over 65% of the land required for the project had been acquired, but some villagers were refusing to accept the government’s terms. Gambhira said the villagers want the compensation to be doubled, a job for at least one member of every displaced family, a house each under the PM Awas Yojana and alternative agricultural land.
The Kanhar dam project straddling Duddhi is expected to benefit parts of UP, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. The project had been launched at an estimated cost of Rs 27.75 crore, which has since swelled to Rs 2,000 crore. According to the project blueprint, a 39-metre high and 3.2km-long dam will be constructed to store 0.15 million acre-feet of water. It also entails construction of 121 km of canals to irrigate over 35,000 hectares, benefiting 108 villages. Overall, around 2,500 families will be displaced by the dam.

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