Skip to main content

Narmada dam oustees "marginalised, pauperised"; gram sabhas "not consulted" before acquiring their land

Tribal village off Narmada river
By Our Representative
A high level panel of the Government of India, set up to take a stock of the socio-economic status of the tribals in the country, has strongly taken exception to “pauperisation” of oustees affected by the Narmada dam. Pointing out that there was complete failure to provide oustees “alternative land and sustainable livelihood”, leading to their “pauperisation”, the panel, which submitted its report in mid-2014, talks of “examples of tardy implementation, unfulfilled promises and violation of laws and rules by the very machinery expected to protect the interest of marginalised displaced tribals.”
Pointing towards “lack of managerial capacity in the state to implement resettlement and rehabilitation (R&R)” of the oustees, and “incapability to plan imaginative rehabilitation plans”, the report – submitted to the Ministry of Tribal Affairs but still not made public – says that on the whole it “reflects the lack of commitment on the part of R&R machinery, which did not recognise the fact that rehabilitation is a continuous process, and after taking possession of acquired land, they left the tribal diplaced persons to fend for themselves.”
Prepared by a committee under the chairmanship of Prof Virginius Xaxa, well known tribal expert with the Tata Institute of Social Sciences' Guwahati campus, the report, quoting research studies, says that “this dispossession is accompanied with environmental degradation, which is a basic additional factor causing impoverishment”. It particularly takes strong exception to the “displacement caused by the Narmada dam in Madhya Pradesh”, pointing towards how oustees were affected after the “dam height was raised to 119 metres by June 2006.”
Citing a research study, the Xaxa committee says, “Out of a total of 245 villages in the submergence zone, 193 villages are in Madhya Pradesh, 33 in Maharashtra and 19 in Gujarat. The study emphasises that India is a signatory to ILO Conventions 107 and 169 on the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples. Article 16 of ILO 169 states: 'Where the relocation of these peoples is considered necessary as an exceptional measure, such relocation shall take place only with their free and informed consent'.”
It further quotes the study to say, “Where a return to the traditional lands is not possible in the future, governments must provide 'lands of quality and legal status at least equal to that of the lands previously occupied by them'.”
However, it regrets, the field study found that “Gram Sabhas had not been formally consulted before notifications under the land acquisition Act (LAA), 1894, were issued; few attempts were made to inform the largely illiterate tribal populations about their rights as stated in the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal (NWDT) Award; and the option of ‘land for land’ within Madhya Pradesh was never formally communicated to the Gram Sabhas.”
The report says, “The survey based on 20 R&R sites indicated that only 344 families were actually living in the R&R sites prepared for them. The survey found almost all the sites to be 'very poor'. The government apparently bought 1636.9 hectares of mainly black cotton soil for 86 R&R sites, most of which are totally unsuitable for building houses.”
Even as recommending that “all the adult sons, unmarried adult daughters, widows, divorcees and abandoned wives be treated as separate project affected persons (PAPs)”, the report states, “The study found that most Gram Sabhas in the 171 villages had held meetings and written letters to the Madhya Pradesh government, but received no response.Only when writ petitions were filed in the Supreme Court for villages like Picchodi and Jalsindhi, were judgments made in their favour.”
Coming to R&R in Gujarat of those affected due to the Narmada Project, the report talks of “defective R&R programme and policies” because the state machinery implemented R&R depends through the bureaucracy, which “has prejudices and biases against tribal people” and lack “understanding of their society.”
It adds, the findings about Gujarat were that “there was no consultation with displaced and project affected people, lack of communication, cultural differences were disregarded, faulty land – compensation procedures that did not take into consideration rights of tribal PAPs and added to this fraud and corruption.”
Citing the study, the report also notes “cases of coercion and human rights violations, where people were forced to leave and stay at resettlement locations. False promises were made but once the tribal people shifted, Government officials avoided them and there was absence of a system to address grievances and complaints.”

Comments

TRENDING

Modi, Shah 'forget': Gandhi’s first Satyagraha was against citizenship law of South Africa

By Nachiketa Desai*
Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi once on January 30, 1948 but his followers raising the war cry of ‘Jai Sriram’ are killing the Mahatma every day. In his home state of Gujarat, Gandhiji was killed a thousand times in 2002 when over 2,000 Muslims were butchered, their women raped, homes and shops plundered and set on fire and even unborn babies ripped out of the wombs of their mothers.

Union Budget 'moves away' from Right to Education, 1.3 lakh schools closed down

By Dr Aparajita Sharma*
It was a shocking reply by the Union human resource development minister to a question raised in Parliament on closure of schools in a country where lakhs of children are still out of school. On December 2, the minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, told Lok Sabha that the NITI Aayog’s education project, Sath-E, has led to 35,996 schools of different levels being merged in Madhya Pradesh, 4,312 in Jharkhand and 1,803 in Odisha. NITI Aayog is the Central Government’s policy think-tank.

CAA-NPR-NRC will 'target' 99% homeless, who are without birth certificates: NCU

Counterview Desk
Claiming to base on a survey in five states (Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu), which finds that over 99% of the homeless people do not have birth certificates, a civil rights organization which networks activists, researchers, urban practioners, lawyers, informal sector workers, has claimed that the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), as also the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR), are likely to adversely impact this section the most.

Modi 'warned': Will not remain silent when women are labelled terrorists and traitors

Counterview Desk
As many as 13 women's rights organizations and 162 individuals have issued an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi stating that in the light of hate speeches during Delhi elections, especially directed against women, it is his "Constitutional duty to protect all citizens" and tell his partymen "to fight the elections in a manner that upholds the Constitution, not one that increases the fear and insecurity among women."

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad 'declared' two-nation theory in 1937, Jinnah followed 3 years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

Anti-CAA: Mallika Sarabhai joins students, faculty to protest dy CM's 'divisive' talk

By Our Representative
Taking strong exception to deputy chief minister Nitin Patel’s statement against those protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC), well-known danseuse Mallika Sarabhai has joined tens of activists and students and faculty of Gujarat University, CEPT University, Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad, Gujarat Vidyapeeth and Nirma University to say that they are seeking “azadi” from the fascist and communal forces of the country.

Mystery around Gujarat PSU 'transfer' of Rs 250 crore to Canadian firm Karnalyte

By AK Luke, IAS (Retd)*
While returning from a Board meeting of the Oil India Limited (OIL) in Ahmedabad some time in 2012, two officers of the Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd (GSFC), Nanavaty and Patel,  saw me off at the airport. They said they were proceeding to Canada in connection with a project GSFC had entered into with a company there. As we were running late, I hastily wished them the best.

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam*
In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.