HP may approach court against Rajasthan on Pong Dam oustees rehabilitation issue

North Gazette News/Shimla
Toughening its stance against the Rajasthan government over the issue of rehabilitation of Pong Dam oustees, Himachal government may file contempt petition against the state if it fails to take concrete steps to rehabilitate them.

Himachal Revenue minister Kaul Singh Thakur on Thursday said that the meeting of Pong Dam Oustees Committee would be convened on November 28

under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh.

“After the meeting, the government would hold talks with the Rajasthan government on the issue to implement Supreme Court of India’s orders, Thakur said, adding that a delegation would also be sent to Rajasthan to discuss the issue with the government.

If the Rajashtan government fails to implement Apex Court’s orders on rehabilitation of Pong Dam oustees, then the Himachal government would file a contempt petition in the court, Revenue minister added.

Around 20,000 people living in Kangra were uprooted from their land for the construction of the Pong hydroelectric power project and the oustees were assured of help in the form of compensation and rehabilitation during acquisition their lands almost 50 years ago.

But even after 50 years, many of these families are still running from pillar to post for rehabilitation.

Government records show that the construction of the Pong Dam affected 75,268 acre in 339 village with 226 villages with a population of 20,729 submerged completely.
Of the total displaced population, 16,352 people were found eligible for rehabilitation as the rest were labourers and possessed no land at the time of displacement. Of the total eligible population, 6,167 members of 2,051 families had still not been compensated as the issue lingers on due to inter-state wrangling and court arbitration.

A standing committee formed by the Rajasthan and Himachal governments to solve their problems, the Rajasthan government had offered land, mostly arid and without proper irrigation facilities.