[VIDEO] Exposing An Unnatural Disaster: Thousands Left Crippled In A Chhatisgarh Village

Posted on December 8, 2014 in Politics, Society, Video

By Video Volunteers:

“The government took our land and made us homeless,” says Bhan, noting that the government took their farmland to build the dam. As a result, her community has lost their main source of livelihood. “The government is turning us into daily wage laborers in the same land where we grew our food.”

Bhan has been an active part of public protests against the dam and continues to work among the affected people to demand compensation and rehabilitation. Without the reports of Video Volunteers Community Correspondents like her, few outside of these displaced communities would ever have known about them. Your support makes it possible.

We feel a proper introduction is necessary. Meet Bhan Sahu. She’s a Community Correspondent with Video Volunteers from Rajnandgaon. She’s worked extensively with the Dodke community as a land rights activist. Sadly, this land was flooded, leaving more than 15,000 people displaced and homeless. But this flood was not a natural disaster — her own government caused it.

Bhan is dedicated to supporting her community’s struggle until they succeed. Will you stand with her as she faces powerful forces of government corruption and corporate greed?

The Mogra dam in Rajnandgaon District was planned in 1967 and was finally built by early 2006. The dam is situated on the Seonath river in Rajnandgaon District, Chattisgarh which affect a total of 56 villages situated around its trajectory. The project saw heavy resistance and displaced more than 15000 people as per the government figures. Bhan Sahu, our Community Correspondent from the area has witnessed the struggles of the residents of Dodke village for the past ten years. It is one of 25 villages where lives of residents have been considerably hampered by the dam.

After the construction of the dam, Dodke village and surrounding areas of Ambagrah Chowki area are flooded almost throughout the year. Their agricultural land has been ruined and there is always a shortage of drinking water. The main problem however is the fact that the constant flood like situation has made travelling to and from Dodke near impossible. The area had once connected the villages to larger cities.

With no bridge on the river, residents have to use planks and boats to travel even to nearby places. Even to get to the local school 2 km away, children have to take a long-winded route through forest areas. When they don’t find friends to go with, they’ll have to skip school.

Bhan Sahu had been an active part of the protests against the dam and now continues to work among the affected people to get them rehabilitation and compensation. Her video from 2010 is evidence of the havoc it caused then.

Four years have passed and not much has changed. Bhan Sahu, who is still trying to help the community recover from the trauma of displacement and landlessness, feels that such kind of apathy from the government only makes villagers feel more and more like outcasts.

The villagers have submitted applications to the District Collector a number of times. They have taken their appeals to build a bridge to the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh. They want to be able to travel, to work, to eat, to study, to live. Even the regional media’s reportage on this issue has failed to get a response from the government.

The people however carry on, determined and are STILL hopeful that one day their Government, the one that promises them development will listen to them. Will you make sure that the Government of Chhattisgarh takes note of this?

The government claimed that the dam was built to provide irrigation, but instead has been used to support industrial units. This project perpetuates the common pattern of so-called “development” projects benefitting big businesses while further impoverishing already marginalized communities.

Call to Action: Please call Ashok Agarwal, the District Collector of Rajnandgaon on 9425203199 and ask to make sure the bridge in the flood area of Dodke village is built immediately.