The election campaign in Ambegaon constituency, under which Malin village falls, may be centered on the issue of rehabilitation of the landslide survivors. While senior NCP leader and sitting MLA Dilip Walse-Patil is hoping to win his sixth consecutive term, the BJP alleged that neither Walse Patil nor the state government have taken the rehabilitation of Malin seriously.
Asked about Malin’s rehabilitation, which has gone back to square one after survivors refused the government’s proposal of being rehabilitated in nearby Zanjrewadi village, Walse-Patil said, “Within a month of the landslide, the state cabinet had come up with a comprehensive rehabilitation plan for Malin.”
Asked if Malin is his main election campaign agenda, he said, “I don’t want to politicise the Malin issue. As a local, I know the people of this region very well. They are very co-operative and from the day of the landslide, with their help, we had carried out rescue operations and are now working on the rehabilitation plan.”
However, BJP western Maharashtra spokesperson Shreepad Dhekne said, “The BJP’s concern is to rehabilitate survivors in the right way. There is a lot of confusion about the current rehabilitation plan. The state government is not at all serious about this sensitive issue. Walse-Patil has not even finalized the site for rehabilitation.”
Shockingly, neither BJP candidate Jaysingh Erande nor Shiv Sena candidate Arun Gire, who are contesting elections from this constituency have anything to say on Malin’s rehabilitation. While Gire refused to comment, Erande said he would approach this topic once he commences his poll campaign on October 1.
Meanwhile, the survivors are waiting. Pradeep Virnak, a survivor said, “The issue of rehabilitation has become quite complex. The government suggested land to us in nearby Zanjrewadi. But it is a hilly area and it will be inconvenient for us to look after our fields from there. Besides this there are other issues like availability of water and transport. Hence we have unanimously refused that site. After that, there was no talk about rehabilitation. We have not yet received the temporary tin-shed shelters which the government had assured it would build in three weeks.”
On July 30 this year, a landslide occurred in the village, burying most of it. Eight people were rescued and 151 died.