Villagers in Lorestan County Demand Fair Land Compensation

Kamandan Village in Lorestan ProvinceKamandan Village in Lorestan Province

Construction of Kamandan Dam in Lorestan Province started in 2005; however due to budget overruns and lack of funding the project after 11 years is only half complete.

In 2013, during his visit to the project site, Habibollah Dehmardeh, former governor of Lorestan, had said the project would be ready by the end of the year and water would be released into the dam; but the project stalled due to financial constraints.

This has caused many problems for people living in Kamandan village located in Azna County and has a population of 729 in 136 families, as per the 2006 census, the Persian language newspaper ‘Shahrvand’ reported.

“Villagers were forced to sell their homes and agriculture fields and the compensation offered was pitiful,” when the project was started, said Mostafa Dehqani, the village chief.

“Only $8 was paid for each walnut tree culled, while the real cost was $80. The agricultural lands were also purchased for $850 per hectare and a total of 400 hectares of the village lands was acquired.”

“No studies were conducted on the impact of the dam construction on rural people’s livelihoods,” he complains.  

During the years 2010 and 2011, around $4.8 million was allocated for the dam. So far, the project has received $10.2 million.

  Distressed Buildings

Eleven years ago, officials promised to relocate the villagers.

“Explosions during the dam construction have left deep cracks in all buildings and homes. Officials promised to retrofit our homes but so far, nothing has happened,” Dehqani said.

“We are really worried especially since there is heavy snowfall during winter and all buildings in the area are distressed; nor have we been paid adequate compensation to be able to buy alternate land elsewhere to start afresh.”

At present, there are 150 primary and 50 high school students studying in risky buildings in the village.  

Initially they were told that water for agriculture use is the main reason for the dam construction; now the officials say the dam will provide drinking-water  for a proposed tourist site in the vicinity, a villager maintained. “The main cause of these problems, undoubtedly, is our own ignorance and illiteracy.”  

He said villagers had gone to Tehran to register their protest with the authorities who promised measures to resolve the problem. But nothing has happened so far.

The complaints and problems facing Kamandan residents are quite similar to what Gatvand residents had earlier experienced after the construction of the Gatvand Dam in 2013 on Karoun River in Khuzestan Province.

In addition to wiping out palm groves and increasing salinity of the Karoun, the dam also contributed to the desertification of Gatvand village that is gradually displacing large numbers of rural residents and pushing them into bigger cities like Abadan and Ahvaz that cannot cope with the influx.

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