The National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), representing tens of mass organizations across India, has asked the National Human Rights Commission chairman to immediately intervene and inquire into “illegal” release of water from Gandikota reservoir, submerging six villages in of YSR Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh.
In all, NHRC has been told, 1500 cusecs of Krishna river water is being released every day from Gandikota reservoir, which would eventually lead to “flooding” of 22 other villages.
Calling it a gross human rights violation, NAPM says in its letter, the waters are being released “without due process of law and rehabilitation as per the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, and the Andhra Pradesh Rehabilitation Policy, 2005.”
Sent amidst Chief Minister N Chandrbabu Naidu formally dedicating the Gandikota Project to the nation, NAPM says, the government itself has admitted that of 9,000 families who would be affected, 5,700 families are yet to avail of benefits.
Pointing out that the actual number of oustees would be much higher, NAPM alleges, while the government claims that 3,300 families have received benefits, many have denied having got any compensation.
Those who have signed the letter include Medha Patkar, Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey, Gabriele Dietrich, Prafulla Samantara, Dr Sunilam, Binayak Sen, Sandeep Pandey, Jayasree Kaukumani, S Jeevan Kumar, P.Chennaiah, B. Ramakrishnam Raju, Meera Sanghamitra, Vimala Morthala, Kirankumar Vissa, Rahul Maganiti and others.
According to the letter, waters are being “released into the villages without prior announcements”, which shows “utter lack of humanity on the part of the government”, insisting, “Any further release of water and inundation of villages should be stopped forthwith.”
The letter says, meanwhile, the villagers are being forcibly displaced “without providing lawful rehabilitation and effective and alternative arrangements for their basic necessities like shelter, water, food and basic services like education, health, sanitation etc.”
The letter asks NHRC to ensure that the government makes “an immediate village-wise fair assessment of the previous land acquisition process in the light of the land acquisition Act, 2013”.
It says, this is necessary, the oustees have still not got the physical possession of the lands and houses and rehabilitation and resettlement of most of the project affected families is “not completed”, even though “lands/house were acquired several years ago.”
Emphasising that “in all cases where the erstwhile land acquisition has lapsed as per 2013 Act”, and the “state must recognize the ownership rights of the people”, the letter wants the state to make fresh initiation of “the whole land acquisition process, ensuring disbursement of compensation and rehabilitation of the project affected and displaced families.”
The letter says, “Two acres of promised land to all project displaced families should be distributed immediately within a specified time frame, as all the PDFs are dependent upon agriculture and allied activities.”
It adds, “The government should also take steps to provide alternative employment/livelihood opportunities near R&R colonies”, even as providing loans for people “dependent on cattle rearing and dairy industry.”
The letter further says, the villagers of Chowtupalli were promised a special package of Rs 1 lakh in September 2015, which the state government order has cancelled on January 4, which is one reason why the people of Chowtupalli are at the forefront in the struggle against submergence.
“The government should take back the order and conform to all the promises made to the people earlier”, the letter asserts, adding, “The compensation of Rs 1 lakh is not only meagre, it is also an attempt to scuttle the recognition and implementation of the rights as per 2013 Act.”