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In 1959, an irrigation and power project was constructed by Nepal and India, to mutually benefit the grain bowls in the neighboring countries. In January 2012, a proposed extension is threatening to put the futures of at least 15 villages in Block Mahua, District Vaishali, Bihar, India in the dark.
The people, most of whom belong to economically and socially marginalized communities stand to lose their homes, fertile lands and livelihoods. With nowhere to go, there is ambience of utter chaos and melancholy in these villages.
In a report in The Telegraph dated 30 January, 2012, the Water Resources Minister, Vijay Chaudhary categorically stated that a team of District Land Acquisition Officers will be co-ordinating with the people in the area for aquriing land for the project.
But the residents tell a different story. "We have not received any notice, there is no solution. We won't let the construction happen. We cannot go anywhere."
The families are facing extreme pressure. A women sobs and tells her story, "My husband couldn't take all this and he fainted."
Ajeet Bahadhur our Community Correspondent is participating in a grassroots struggle with the communities against this meaningless development work. He reports that the work is currently on in the villages. The Sub Canal proposed in the Gandak Irrigation and Power Project extension plans, will be built 500m away from the present Canal.
The paradox is that, the new Sub Canal can only provide irrigation water in the late monsoon when the villagers are not dependent on the Canal. Also, there is a river just 100 Gaj (1 Gaj = 36 inches) away and water can be pumped from there.
Left with no choice but to resist the meaningless development work, the people have collectively decided to oppose it at political, legal and grassroots level.
Ajeet concludes, "I don't understand the purpose of this Sub Canal. It should be scrapped off immediately and the authorities responsible should be punished. Even you can help me by writing to the Irrigation and Agricultural Minister, Bihar."
Written By -- Amrita Anand