Rural community builds brand new village after being forced out of their homes due to dam construction

A community that saw their village destroyed to make way for a dam have been able to relocate and build a new one thanks to a Jesuit initiative.

Residents living in part of the Godhra Taluka district of Gujarat were forced out of their homes to accommodate construction works for a new dam in the area.

This is known as ‘Development Induced Development and Resettlement’ and left those affected with little choice but to move on.

But thanks to the work of Lok Manch – a people’s forum that provides practical support to vulnerable communities – they have been able to rebuild their lives.

Himatbhai Punabhai Nayak, one of the villagers impacted by the disruption, said: “The migration itself was a major change for us, but the worst was yet to come.

“We started to realise that we lacked basic necessities such as clean drinking water, raw materials to build houses and access to roads.

“We clearly weren’t living a life anywhere close to a dignified one, and we had no access to government subsidies or information.”

The villagers managed to get in touch with Lok Manch, a Jesuit Missions partner, which set about putting measures in place to help improve the new settlement.

Through meetings with local administrators, it has been able to secure new housing, toilets and the construction of a main road that connects the dwelling to other parts of the region.

Recently, a large water tank has been installed in the village, which provides water to every house and removes the need for women to walk long distances to fill up buckets.

Mr Nayak, who was elected as a community leader to work with Lok Manch, added: “I couldn’t be more thankful to the Lok Manch team, who have brought such awareness to our situation and made our lives a little better.

“Even though there are still outstanding issues, through this intervention my village now has basic infrastructure and access to government schemes.”

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