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How Andhra govt modified, abandoned Nizam's 'good' policy to rehabilitate displaced

Palla Trinadha Rao*
The present paradigm of viewing development is mainly infrastructure building which goes against the poor, more particularly tribals and dalits in the country. According to estimates based on studies of development-induced displacement 1947 to 2010, researchers have arrived at an estimate of more than 65 million people who have been displaced or project affected people, and lost their sustenance without being relocated.
Such people deprived of their livelihood in the name of national development belong mainly to the subaltern classes, around 40% of them tribal who are 8.6% of the country’s population and 20% are dalits.
The findings of earlier studies have been further reinforced by a recent study on the displacement and marginalisation in Andhra Pradesh (AP) and Telangana (1951-2010) undertaken by a study team comprises of Walter Fernandes, Nafisa Goga D’Souza, Arundhuti Roy Chaudhury, Mohammed Asif, M Gopinath Reddy and the author of this article.
The study was anchored by the North Eastern Social Research Centre (NESRC) and Laya, a tribal resource centre which shows that more than five million people were displaced or affected due to the projects undertaken by successive governments in AP and Telangana during the period 1951-2010. .
The study was done in two stages in the formerly undivided AP, 1951-1995 (first stage) in the late 1990s and 1996-2010 (second stage) in the present decade. The study of more than 80% of the projects during the first stage reveals that about 24. 21 lakh acres of land was taken over by the government and deprived the livelihood of the total displaced/project affected population 30.75,631.
Of the total 15,28,441 Displaced Population (DPs) and 15,38,844 are Project Affected Population (PAPs), while the status of the remaining 11,346 (0.37%) could not be identified. The study team could get information of only around 60% of the projects which used the land of 15.12 lakh acres and displaced/affected were 18,78,685.
Of them 829833 (44.17%) of them DPs and 931663 (49.59%) PAPs. The status of the remaining 1,17,189 (6.24%) could not be identified. That brings one to 49,44,290 DP-PAPs but one speaks of more than five millions because data could not be got for more than 30% of land as well as DP-PAPs.
However, only 28.82% of the DPs were resettled during the first stage (1951-1995) and no information could be got on rehabilitation during the second stage though a new policy on Rehabilitation & Resettlement (R&R) was promulgated in 2005. Much of the rehabilitation was during the massive dams and industries built in the 1950s.
Earlier, it was done under the good policy promulgated by the Nizam while building the Nizam Sagar dam in the 1920s. The Nizam decreed that no cash compensation was to be given to the peasants lest they drift, not being fully familiar with the monetary economy. Rehabilitation of its 13,489 displaced families was to be an integral part of the project. They were to be resettled in model villages in the command area with facilities like land, houses and drinking water provided according to an approved plan and with due regard to sanitation.
As displacement increased slowly, the policy came to be modified and eventually abandoned. One possible reason for weak rehabilitation may be the type of DP-PAPs. The tribes, who are a little over 6% of the population of AP-Telangana, are 21.25% of the DP-PAPs. Their caste-tribe is known during the first stage, and of these, scheduled castes (SCs) are 25.27%. But the caste-tribe of 11.51% could not be identified.
During the second stage (1996-2010) the caste tribe of 28.14% could not be identified. Of those whose caste-tribe is known, 15.42% are tribal and 13.6% are SC. The second stage is the age of globalisation during which much more land than during the first stage was acquired.
It is no surprise to know that the total acquired during the first stage of 45 years comes to 52,200 acres per year but during the 15 years of liberalisation it is an average of 100,800 acres per year. The biggest land users during both the stages are water resource projects.
During the second stage to them are to be added mining and transport. For example, during 45 years of the first stage only 1.29,016.46 acres used for mining could be identified. During the 15 years of the second stage it was 336862.25 acres, and it does not include the high amount of illegal mining. AP-Telangana has the biggest number of cases of illegal mining in the country.
The failure to rehabilitate DPs and the poor state of data on people may be indicative of the attitude towards development. It leaves one with the impression that the GDP, infrastructure development and economic growth are accorded priority and people are ignored.
One found in the data signs of people’s impoverishment, social and environmental degradation because of alienation of the livelihood of the poor for the benefit of another class. Similarly, one found many signs of environmental degradation caused by projects though no technical study was done on this component. That is where one needs to search for alternatives to people displacing and resource intensive projects.
One also needs to search for new forms of rehabilitation. Does India in general and AP and Telangana in particular search for people-oriented alternatives? Does one need to keep destroying the environment for the development of a few and then cry hoarse about climate change?
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One of the authors of "Displacement & Marginalisation in Andhra Pradesh & Telangana (1951-2010)", released on August 29, 2019 by tribal leader Kaki Madhu in Vijayawada

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