At least 133 Dalit households have been destroyed in two villages in Deoghar district in Jharkhand to make way for the Deoghar International Airport.
Since October 2017, the Dalit residents of Bapugarh and Kathiya villages have been living in makeshift huts. The villagers of Bapugarh, who are all Dalits, have been living at the site in tents made of tarpaulin sheets. Speaking to Newsclick, the victims said around 22 villages were acquired for building the international airport spread over 650 acres.
The village has recently seen the death of the two people. M Devaki Devi and Pocha Manjhi died in a span of two days due to cold weather. All the 105 households of Bapugarh have been living in the makeshift tents that hardly provide any respite from the chilling winters of North India.
Manoj Das of Bapugarh lost his house in the demolition drive carried out by the Jharkhand government for the airport. Speaking to Newsclick, he said that the houses in his village were demolished without a prior notice given to them. The officials had promised compensation which has not been given to them till date. Manoj said the compensation to the other 20 villages where the land was acquired for the airport was handed over well in advance.
A local newspaper reported that the family of deceased Pocha Manjhi was given Rs 58 lakh as compensation but goes on to ask why anyone would live in the makeshift huts of plastic sheets if the person had been given the money.
Brushing aside the report, Manoj Das says none of the villagers were given any compensation for the houses that were demolished but were given money for the agricultural land, which was very little.
The District Collector did not respond to calls from Newsclick, an SMS was also sent but no reply was given.
The Deogarh International Airport is a tripartite venture between the Airport Authorities of India (AAI), Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the state government of Jharkhand. The AAI would invest Rs 200 crore while DRDO and the state government would invest Rs 50 crore each. It is slated to be completed by 2019.