The Bagmati Sangharsh Morcha organized a Jansunwai (people’s hearing) in Patna on 29 March 2017 as part of the ongoing issue on putting a stop to the embankment construction on the river Bagmati and the constitution of a review committee to review the project. Several people including well-known river expert Dinesh Kumar Mishra, professors, water activists, engineers, AIARLA and CPI (ML) leaders, and people affected by the embankment construction participated in the Jansunwai.
Morcha convener Jitendra Yadav and other speakers said that due to the changes in structure and flow of the Bagmati over the past 50-60 years, the old project has become irrelevant and causes rather than reduces flooding and water stagnation. The embankment constructions in Muzaffarpur district has caused the flow of several off-streams of the river, and will result in problems for those residing within the embankment as well as outside it. The villagers have therefore asked for a review of the project but even this minimum demand is not being addressed by the government. They pointed out that the Bihar government has no concrete water management plan and the embankment construction will only result in wastage of water and accumulation of silt. They urged women among the affected public to come forward and take the reins of the struggle in their hands. They said that the government must appoint a pro-people review committee to look into the issue. They further said that the people settled for a long period in the lap of the river were the best ‘engineers’ in the matter and their questions must not be neglected. Manoj Kumar Yadav, Ram Sajjan Rai, Sanjeev Kumar, Nawal Kishore Singh, Jagarnath Paswan, Monazir Hassan, Ranjit Kumar Singh, Dinesh Kumar Sahni, Pranav Kumar, Dr Rajiv, Nilu Singh, Sanjay Sisodiya, and other people affected by the embankment construction put forward their views.
Jansunwai Jury Verdict
1.Embankment construction should be stayed without delay and a review committee appointed within one month to review the project.
2.If the government fails to appoint a review committee within one month, a people’s review committee will be formed from within the people.
3.Sitamarhi, Shivhar, Samastipur, Darbhanga and other places where embankments have already been constructed should be reviewed and displaced persons should be compensated and rehabilitated.
4.Keeping in view the reduction in fertility and cultivation of lands within the embankments, farmers should be compensated. This should be done in consultation with the farmers and after study of the changes in farming techniques.
5.A committee should be constituted to conduct an updated study on the Bagmati-Adhwara river groups and alternative policies for irrigation projects should be developed.
6.The problem is not about water; it is about sand and silt. This problem is the result of the lack of scientific water management.
7.All false cases against Jitendra Yadav and other ‘Chas Vaas Jeevan Bachao-Bagmati Sangharsh Morcha’ activists should be taken back.
8.If the government does not stop the construction without delay and appoint a review committee, a Janpanchayat of farmers and workers will be organized at Benibad on 10 May.