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The Kamafuli hydro-project was conceived as a multi-purpose scheme as early as 1906. Subsequent to the partition in 1947, the Kamafuli project became a priority development scheme. The site chosen was a village of
Kaptaimukh. The Kaptaimukh site erected reservoir in the area where many of the tribals and settlers were already engaged in plough cultivation.
David E. Sopher (I 963), 18 who worked on population in the Hill Tracts,reported that, by the mid-1950s out of 115,0000 persons living around the future reservoir area (that is, out of slightly less than half of the total district population), 50,000 were class(1d as belonging to families supported primarily by plough cultivation; of the 80,000 persons in the reservoir area, 55 percent were in plough cultivating families.
In another study by Nafis Ahmed ( 1962), who had toured the areas to be inundated and talked to the worried inhabitants of the areas recorded their resentment. There, according to him, were initially 90,000 Chakmas and other
tribals, 8,000 Muslim settlers and I ,000 Mogh hill-men. He observed that in view of the government policies not to allow any resettlement in the reserved
forest areas, the alternate plan to resettle the affected people by distributing them amongst the existent tribal settlements would be equally unfeasible, in that, instead of solving the problem it would create further issues, in which a
“clash of interests” was inevitable.
The dam intended to develop eliminate the most important economic resources of the Chakmas, the wet-rice land in the valley of the middle Karnafuli, lower Chengri, and the lower Kasalong, and also cultivated land in many smaller areas. The most authoritative prediction, based on revenue roles and census figures, indicated that about 80,000 people would have to move, if only to rebuild their houses on a hill side a few tens of feet higher up, Sopher reported ?
By 1963, the 120,000 KW Karnafuli multi-purpose project came into partial operation. It had a total catchment area of 253 square miles (at full capacity). Initially, 50,000 acres of settled arable land, accounting for 40
percent of the districts total arable area, was submerged.
According to the report available by 1965, the government had
rehabilitated 10,271 families in over 186,90 acres of flat arable land and 21,4 77 acres of hilly land. The largest single · concentration of the rehabilitated families, numbering 3,734, was settled in over 10,000 acres of de-reserved areas in the Kasalong reserved forest. Other locations were the Chengri valley
and those parts of Ramgarh, Rangamati and Bandarban sub-divisions that had not been submerged?.
The compensation schemes provided no relief for the jhum cultivators. Since the government levied tax only to those settled in plough cultivation, it therefore recognized these as being the only affected people entitled to the compensations offered by the government, in lieu of the lands that came under the reservoir. By the end of sixties, the government had been unable to provide enough flat arable land to those who had been displaced on account of their arable lands submerged. The government initiated certain schemes on a priority basis for occupational avenues and income generating activities that would
bring benefits both to the individuals and to the national economy as a whole.Despite all these economic plans and policies of the government, the relocation programmes were faulty, inefficient and insufficient in terms of compensation and rehabilitation. The Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission, 1991, reported “They (government officials), today freely acknowledge that the project triggered the modem troubles in CHT. It left a deep legacy of bitterness and
As a result of the inundation of their homes and settlement in the valleys by the impounded water of Kaptai Hydro-electric project, in 1964, nearly 40,000 Chakmas along with some Moghs crossed over into India and entered NEFA (now the State of Arunachal Pradesh). Some 20,000 are said to have gone to Arakan in Burma. Others were dispersed within CHT.
Reference: The Chittagong Hills Track, Volume -1.