Lack of clarity on place of rehab puts Mudigere flood victims in a fix

The flood-hit people of Mudigere, who wanted to be rehabilitated following landslips earlier this year, are in a fix. The district administration has asked them to give in writing consent for rehabilitation by Monday. However, they are now in a dilemma as they are clueless about where they will be shifted to. Besides this, the conditions imposed by the government for rehabilitation have also disappointed them.

Many people lost their houses and land in the landslips. Madhugundi, Malemane, Durgadahalli and Alekhan Horatti are some of the worst-hit villages. The people of Madhugundi are still at the relief centre located at Bidarahalli near Mudigere.

Deputy Commissioner Bagadi Gautam and other senior officers held a meeting with flood-affected people at Bidarahalli on September 27 and explained to them the consequences of rehabilitation. The victims were told to give letters of consent in the format given by the district administration. Of the 197 families in these flood-affected villages, only 60 had submitted letters till Saturday. The DC subsequently issued a press statement asking people to submit the letters latest by Monday, as the process of working out a rehabilitation plan has been affected by delay in submission of letters.

“We have developed our land by spending huge sums and putting in hard labour over the decades. Even if we are granted alternative land, it will require years altogether to redevelop our estates. Moreover, we don’t know where they will give us land,” said Kale Gowda, a farmer.

The farmers who have been cultivating encroached land are also worried about accepting the rehabilitation package. Shamanna Banaka, a zilla panchayat member, told The Hindu that many have specific problems to giving consent. Some have records of ownership only for a portion of their land, while the rest don’t have the land under their name. “They cannot claim alternative land for the land they cultivated all these years without records. Such people are reluctant to give consent,” he said.

Many are worried about the conditions they have been asked to accept. Lakshman Achar, leader of the Communist Party of India (CPI) in Kalasa, said, “The conditions put forth by the district administration are against the interests of the flood-hit people. How can they [victims] give consent without knowing the location where they will be asked to go to? Moreover, they have been asked to give in writing that they will not move the courts seeking higher compensation,” he said. The CPI Kalasa unit has scheduled a protest on Monday seeking a fair compensation package for the flood-hit.

Land identified

The district administration has identified 257 acres of land in Mudigere taluk for rehabilitation. Additional Deputy Commissioner Kumara said, “The worst-affected are those in Madhugundi and Malemane villages. We are convincing the people in these villages to come out. Whoever gives the letter of consent will be rehabilitated.”

The officer said the administration was aware of the concerns of the victims. “At most, we can give land, but they have to work hard to develop it. The government has to decide on giving money for developing land,” he said.

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