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Andhra project to "submerge" 11,200 acres of revenue, 6,600 acres of forest land; 70,000 to lose livelihood: Report

Senior activist Vimala Morthala interacting
with tribal villagers
By Our Representative
A fact-finding committee has estimated that 11,200 acres of revenue land of 127 villages, apart from 6,600 acres of forest land, would be submerged in Andhra Pradesh as a result of the proposed Rs 4,910 crore Chintalapudi Lift Irrigation project. Also displacing 16 adivasi villages, the team has further estimated that 70,000 people would lose their livelihood “entirely or partially”.
An initial report prepared by the civil society team of the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) and other people’s organizations, which visited the project-affected villages of three mandals, Jeelugumilli, T Narsapuram and Chintalapudi of West Godavari district, said its main purpose was to  "understand the problems being faced by the people” because of the project.
Those who would lose their land are “land-owning farmers, landless labourers, tenant farmers and people engaged in other rural occupations”, the report said, adding, “In addition to the problems being faced by the people due to the large-scale displacement, there are also severe environmental impacts generated by this project. ”
The team – which particularly "assessed" the implementation of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (LARR) Act, 2013 – alarmingly found that before putting the project in motion no social impact assessment (SIA) of the area was carried out. SIA is one of the major provisions of the LARR Act.
A displaced farmer
Pointing out that the “the government is proceeding without an authenticated documentation of all the families being impacted by the project and the nature of impact”, the report also stated that no public hearing was conducted on the project, nor was any gram sabha meetings called, or local bodies such as panchayats consulted in any of the affected villages.
Pointing out that “the objections and opinions expressed by the affected villagers have not been considered or responded to”, the report said, the government is going ahead with the project without any environmental Clearance for the project.
In yet another observation, the report said, “The Rehabilitation and Resettlement Plan, as per the requirements of the LARR Act, has not been published and made public for any village”, adding, even “the claims of adivasis to their cultivation rights over forest lands, under the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006 have not been settled”, yet the government “is proceeding with acquiring forest lands.”
Pointing towards further violations of the LARR Act, the report said, “The real market value of land is not being determined as per the letter and spirit of Section 26(B) of the Act, when the compensation rates are being fixed.”
It added, many land holders are being offered “ex-gratia payment” in violation of the the land-for-land provision of the Act for irrigation projects.
The report said, “Since the Chintalapudi project is part of the larger Polavaram project which is being implemented through the Central government funds, the rules declared for Central government projects for rehabilitation and resettlement should be implemented.”
Wanting LARR Act to be implemented in letter and spirit, the report said, referring in particular to the provision that the compensation for the land to be submerged should be four times the market value.
The Chintalapudi Lift Irrigation project was initiated in 2008 with a capacity of 8 thousand million cubic feet (tmcft), was recently expanded to 20 tmcft.
The fact-finding committee included Meera Sanghamitra, a national convener of NAPM; Mortala Vimala, social activist; Babuji from Andhra Pradesh Vyavasaya Vruttidarula Union (APVVU); and Rahul Maganti, an independent journalist.

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