Over 400 Selaulim families were assured of Class 1 status within a period of two months in August 2020, in a bid to resolve a four-decade-old land ownership issue.
However, the evacuees continue to remain in limbo and unsure if and when they would get their primary issue of land ownership resolved.
At the time when the Selaulim Dam was constructed in 1975, the government had evacuated a total of 643 families and in the 1980s, had provided them with a housing plot of 400 sq mtrs and an agricultural plot of 10,000 sq mtrs, either at Curdi-Wadem or Valkini-Bhati.
After being settled at the new place, about 216 families got their names included as Class I occupants of the plots allotted to them. However, the remaining affected families continue to run from pillar to post to get the Class I status, despite several assurances by successive governments.
In August 2020, then revenue minister Jennifer Monserrate had assured to get the issue resolved in two months and then Sanguem Deputy Collector Sanguem Ajay Gaude had even made efforts to collect the primary documents from the affected evacuees.
During the same time, Monserrate and a team of surveyors even got the vacant plots at Curdi-Wadem resurveyed, to allocate them to the ‘missing families’.
However, except for the ground work and the report prepared by the surveyors, nothing much has moved in favour of the evacuees.
Curdi-Wadem former deputy sarpanch Kushta Gaonkar, who himself is struggling to get the Class I status over 40 years, complained that the government is not serious about any of the issues faced by the Selaulim evacuees who sacrificed their ancestral lands and homes to pave way for the Selaulim dam.
“Besides failing to allocate any benefits to the 89 ‘missing families’, who were missed out in the survey by the government, several families who were allotted agricultural plots at Ozrem in Bhati village were not issued with ownership Sanad as of date,” said Gaonkar.
“In the absence of any ownership documents and lack of Class I status, the evacuees find it hard to get any financial benefits from banks and financial institutions.”
“The Class I status entitles the evacuees to get their names recorded in the occupant’s column of the survey records. Right now, their names have been recorded as mere cultivators of the land allotted to them at the time of rehabilitation.”
Another villager, Chandan Unandkar, also accused the government for failing to resolve the primary issues faced by the evacuees within a time limit.
“Time and time again, the issues faced by Selaulim evacuees are raised in assembly sessions, but they are forgotten once the sessions are over,” claimed Unandkar.
With the State government accused of taking the issue lightly and still delaying in resolving the issue, some evacuees are already planning to form an NGO, to take up the matter before government authorities to ensure the allocation of Sanads, Class I status and plots to all evacuees.
Even after the allocation of plots about 40 years ago, the evacuees continue to hold the land as Class II occupants and this has caused evacuees several problems despite possessing plots allotted to them.
More importantly, no financial institution offers financial grants to the evacuees for the development of plots owned by them as the evacuees are Class II occupants and do not have exclusive ownership rights.