Even after HC order, no relief for Talyanche residents

Updated: 14 August, 2020 08:24 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon | Mumbai

Appalled at states response in matter, HC asks for affidavit with details of facilities provided to villagers

The hamlet is surrounded with water on three sides and jungle on the fourth
The hamlet is surrounded with water on three sides and jungle on the fourth

Even a week after Bombay High Court setting aside the response of MIDC and tehsildar of Talyanche Wadi — a tribal hamlet in Murbad district — and asking the state government to ensure uninterrupted supply of potable water and transport for villagers, none of it has reached the locals yet. 

ON August 5, the division bench of the HC headed by Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Judge A S Gadkari, directed Thane district collector to submit a detailed report in the matter. Also, a senior official of MIDC has been asked to submit a response in the matter, within two weeks. The PIL is slated for further hearing on August 28.

'Response appalling'

In its order, the court stated, "The response of the state appears to be appalling. Recording our dissatisfaction, we permit the state to file an appropriate response through an affidavit within two weeks. Such affidavit shall be filed by the district collector, Thane, who shall give a clear picture of the facilities that have been made available and are yet to be made available to the villagers of Talyanche Wadi."

The order further stated, "As far as the MIDC is concerned, an affidavit shall be filed on its behalf by a senior official, within two weeks, with details of the steps that have been taken for redressing the grievances of the concerned villagers. In the meantime, MIDC as well as the state shall ensure uninterrupted supply of potable water to the villagers and make appropriate transportation facilities available to them."

Speaking to mid-day, Padmakar Zugare, a villager, said, "No official came to our village, and due to heavy rainfall over the past couple of days, water level of Barvi dam has increased. We are now worried because the dam is hardly a few metres from our village, which is already surrounded with water on three sides, and the only access route is through the jungle."

Zuagre further said, "We are now looking for documents to prove our existence and that it is connected to the original Talyanche Wadi, which got submerged in the dam water a couple of decades ago. After that we shifted our base to this place. What's worse is that none of the 60 households in the hamlet have any documents or details that would help us get rehabilitated."

'Nobody is bothered'

When contacted, Indavi Tulpule, member of Shramik Mukti Sangathana, said, "It is unfortunate that even after the HC made a serious observation in the matter and directed MIDC to provide water and transport facilities to the Talyanche Wadi locals, the authorities concerned have not even bothered to look into it. They have even claimed that the hamlet is not affected by the rising water level of Barvi Dam, which is incorrect."

"It is absurd that even after a week no one has bothered to follow the court directives. Basically, nothing is happening at the ground level. I had also written an email to Thane collector regarding the court order but there has been no response," she added.

Tulpule further said, "We have learnt that the tribals were displaced for a second time after the 1972 incident, when they moved from the submerged areas to nearby locations at higher altitude. The tribals of Talyanche Wadi hail from the revenue village Tale, which was part of Group Grampanchayat Birwadi, way back in 1986-87. We are of the belief that this the same period when the height of Barvi dam had increased. Today, neither the gram panchayat nor the village exists in government records."

'It's being unfair'

"We are now collecting documents to prove the right of the tribals, as they never received the benefits of project-affected people. Though we have found some documents and minutes from meetings wherein it is clearly stated that Talyanche Wadi land was acquired for Barvi dam, the authorities concerned claim the hamlet doesn't exist. This is nothing but being unfair to the locals," she added.

High court to hear matter on August 28

Kanha Khadali, 46, a tribal residing in nearby Kolewadhakal village, and Rajaram Balu Zugare of Talyanchi Wadi recently filed a joint writ petition in the Bombay HC against MIDC demanding rehabilitation benefits. The decision to move court was taken after numerous letters sent to MIDC, the Murbad tehsildar and Thane collector, fell on deaf ears. Even during the lockdown, the tribals submitted more than 55 applications before the Thane collector and MIDC executive engineer, but all of it was ignored. In its submission, MIDC has refuted the claims made by the petitioners, which was challenged through a counter affidavit. The matter is now slated before the Chief Justice of Bombay High Court Dipankar Datta and will be heard again on August 28.

The hamlet

The tribal hamlet with 60 houses and 200 people located eight kilometres from Murbad tehsil is fighting a lonely battle with no power, no food and no roads for almost the past five decades. In the absence of proper transport facilities and road connectivity, the locals have to carry sick people and pregnant women to the nearest hospital in hammocks. The worst is that they get power for a few hours only twice a week and have to live in darkness the rest of the time. They also have to travel to the nearest village, located 3 km away, to charge their phones.

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First Published: 14 August, 2020 07:03 IST

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