Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Destitute of Development

Nandini Basistha
Development is an inalienable comprehensive economic, social, cultural and political process, which aims at the constant improvement of the well being of the entire population. (‘Declaration on the Right to Development’, adopted by General Assembly Resolution (41/128 of 4 Dec 1986) from the book, The Right to Development: A Primer, by Centre for Development and Human Right, Sage Publications, 2004, p 253.)But the governments of most of the third world countries put stress on the process of industrialization and modernization as means of development. For helping such process, governments generally manifest developmental projects, like building of dams, expressways, highways, canals, airports and new towns. Every developmental project requires land. So governments generally encroaches lands from the local inhabitants. The segment of population that is ‘developed’ by the development projects is different from the segment that is ‘displaced’. (An EPW DISCUSSION ON ‘Linking Development to Displacement’, by M. Bharati and R.S. Rao.) Displacement provides a grim scenario of landlessness, homelessness, lack of food, loss of common resources, marginalisation and breakdown of social networks. Sometimes the directly displaced people, who have inhabited the project-sides for generations, get meager amount of compensation from the government. But indirectly displaced, who losses the control over natural and environmental resources, thereby deprives of the traditional means of livelihood, are the forgotten people of governmental rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R) policy. Thus the ‘Displaced’ has to bear the price of development in the larger interest of ‘Nation’. (Globalization, State Policies and Sustainability of Rights, by Madhuresh Kumar, MCRG, 2005,P1.) They are the ‘Destitutes of Development’. (The phrese ‘Destitute of Development’ was quated from a letter to the EPW Edittor on March 6, 2004.)
All of the countries of South Asia (viz. India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Srilanka, Bangladesh and Maldives) are developing countries. So displacement of communities from their ancestral lands has been integral to the developing economics of South Asia. (Quoted from an essay of Atta ur Rehman Sheikh, ‘Pakistan: Development and Disaster’, from the book ‘Internal Displacement in South Asia’, edited by PaulaBanergee, Sabyasachi Basu Roy Choudhury andSamir Kumar Das, Sage Publications, 2005,p63) The heavy emphasis on large scale projects for infrastructure development of the country has laid to the displacement of millions in South Asia. (Ibid, p 63) But the R&R programme of the displaced persons are marginalized in project plans for many reasons.
Firstly, being low-income countries, South Asian states have to accept loans from different international organizations (like World Bank, Asian Development Bank etc.) for fulfilling monetary requirements of the developmental projects. (As stated in World Bank Report, 2000) These large, foreign funded projects had too many aid related conditions, attached by funding agencies. (Development: World Commition on Dams holds South Asia hearing, In most of the cases, there are no recommendations rehabilitation policy.
Secondly, no Govt of South Asia has concrete policy for rehabilitation and resettlement of the displaced people. Even they do not follow the international principles on IDPs and human rights.
Thirdly, sometimes the govt. tries to follow comprehensive rehabilitation and resettlement policy. But for corruption and malpractices of the authorities this good will cannot transform into good effort. According to Dr. Paula Banerjee, "States have rarely produced well thought out policies on relief and rehabilitation of the IDPs and have failed to carry out measures with a long perspective. Whatever has happened as relief measures has been the product of ad hoc steps taken by the state." (‘Internal Displacement in South Asia’, ibid, p16)
For all these reasons, for sake of 'development', thousands of families are displaced and threw in the path of uncertainty. The brunt of displacement sweeps away the separate identities of people. According to one observer, 'When people are uprooted because their land is wanted for economic reasons usually associated with visions of national development, their multiple identities tend to disappear; they become engendered, uprooted.'(ibid, p297)
As in any other kind of displacement women and children are also particularly vulnerable in development - induced displacement. (ibid, p297) Women as marginalized entities within marginalized communities are of ten forced to shoulder the on deal of displacement far more intensely. (ibid, p297) But gender disaggregated data are seldom available in any developmental project involving displacement. (ibid, p297) Women are marginalized even in compensation policy in many ways.
Firstly, as women generally do not own land, they do not get any compensation. But, they have lost their means of livelihood for developmental projects. So they are affected economically.
Secondly, the cash compensation generally disempowers women, just because women do not handle cash or for that matter have control over financial resource within the family. (ibid, p85) Therefore, the decision to spend the money lies with the men of the family. (ibid, p85) In many cases, the male member spent the money for their own amusement, not for the family.
Thirdly, the disintegration of social network of the displaced communities and loss of land and common resources compels the women to do domestic work or other jobs for survival. All of these severely impacts on the health and nutrition of women, as well as on their children, who remain without education in most of the cases. (ibid, p85)
Fourthly, even women face severe problems in resettlement sites. These problems start from something as apparently small as no separate toilets for women to bigger problems such as refusal to give women headed households the status of PAF. (ibid, p85)
Now, I like to cite the example of some countries of South Asia, in which development brings disaster for the displaced people.
From the eve of independence in 1947, the government of Pakistan have been considering industrialization and modernization as the panacea of development, as the mere dependence on agriculture produce would not make the state viable and stable. (ibid, p300) Apart from dam building, numerous other projects have been planned, like expressways, highways, roads, canals, water reservoirs and new towns. For these developments it is included among the Newly Industrializing Countries and its growth rate has increased. But this development is not holistic development. Because concern for resettlement of uprooted communities has always been secondary in project plans and the experience has shown that the implementation of resettlement action plans continued to be faulty and poor. (ibid, p63) As a result, Pakistan's record on the scoreboard of forced eviction of the people, lack of comprehensive plans for resettlement and rehabilitation of livelihood, undervalued compensation, delayed payment, relocations and problems of integration of dislocated communities is quite dismal. (ibid, p64) If we critically analyze some developmental projects it can be bitterly understood that development often led to displacement.
Case Studies: Ghazi - Barotha Dam
Large dams have been declared the bedrock of Pakistan's agricultural economy and industrial base from the early decades of its national policy and planning. (ibid, p65) But there dam projects had evolved many controversies as these had ignored community participation and R & R policy.(ibid, p65-66) So, the government of Pakistan cam up with the Ghazi - Barotha Hydropower Project with a comprehensive resettlement plan and minimal environmental and resettlement impacts. (ibid, p69) It was tried to avoid displacement through site selection. But, in spite of that this project affected 21653 persons. (ibid, p70) They include 3412 persons who would loss all of their land. (ibid, p70) It was expected that impact of land acquisition would largely be mitigated by the provision of irrigated land on the spoil banks and by measures of fair and prompt compensation. (ibid, p70) The other 1778 persons that did not own the Regional Development Plan, which would ensure that the project affected families, assured any land but loss livelihood for this project would have a standard of living. At least equal to that which they had before the project.(ibid, p70)
For implementing these proposals, WAPDA has provided Rs. 100 million as seed money with assurance of providing an additional amount of Rs. 176 million. (ibid, p70)A project non-governmental organization (PNGO) would be assist the Environmental and Social Division of the Ghazi-Barotha Project Organization (GBPO) for in monitoring the social aspects of the resettlement action plan including land acquisition and compensation, formation of tube-well users' association and allocation of developed spoil bank. (ibid, p70) Transparency of compensation process, resettlement housing, employment, training and credit schemes and environmental protection under the integrated rural development programme was implemented. (ibid, p70)
This well thought policies cannot be materialized for the irregularities and malpractices of WAPDA officials and landowners. So, the investigators - the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the Regional Accountability Bureau (NWFP) termed it as the biggest 'Land Acquisition Scam' in South Asia. (ibid, p71) With the connivance of Land Valuation Assessment Committees, Land Acquisition Collectors, officials of Agriculture Development and land owners of the area, the payment of compensation was made at highly inflated rates for low category of land, non-existing facilities, infrastructure and orchards. Investigation is under way and 200 affected people, including 80 women, have been accused of receiving excessive land compensation. (ibid, p71)
Without going into the debate of maltreatment of the Ghazi-Barotha Project, I can clearly say that this type of humanitarian consideration about the destitute of displacement have ushered a new hope for future in which development projects will bring holistic development for all segments of people.
Besides the Ghazi-Barotha Hydropower Project, the government of Pakistan have completed Mangla Dam, Tarbela Dam, Islamabad Capital Territory, National Motorway Lyari Expressway, Cholistan Dam and Gawadar Port in which millions of people plan displaced. Now, without having a comprehensive plan for development of rehabilitation and resettlement, the government of Pakistan has launched another controversial and ambitions hydropower project named "Vision 2025', which is likely to add to the number of displaced in the country. (ibid, p65) Being aware of the cost of development, now many civil society organizations and political parties are now protesting united these projects. So, the government of Pakistan needs to develop comprehensive plans for R & R of the displaced before initiating other developmental projects.
India has one of the highest development-induced displacements in the world. (ibid, p297) As a result of the developmental projects like mines, dams, industries, wildlife sanctuaries and others about 21 million people were internally displaced in India. (ibid, p116)
Table – 1
Statistics of Displaced Persons (DPs) and Project Affected Persons (PAPs) for some Developmental Projects

Source for 1 – 19: Ministry of Home Affair,s 1985: 18 – 19 ; Subrata De 1998 : 145; CWC 1996.
Source for 20: The essay of Subir Bhawmik, ‘India’s Northeast: Nobody ‘s People in No – Man’s – Land’ in the book, “Internal Displacement in South Asia, ibid, p147.
Source for 21: The essay of Samir Kumar Das, ‘India: Homelessness at Home’ in the book, ‘Internal Displacement in South Asia’, ibid, p.137.
With 4300 dams in place, India is one world's major dam building countries for which about 37500 square kilometer areas was submerged and at least 42 million people have displaced. (International River Network, In the Indian context, it is of interest to note that most of the developmental projects are located in the most backward areas and populated by various small nationalities - otherwise called tribals. (Globalization, State Policies and Sustainability of Rights, by Madhuresh Kumar, MCRG, 2005, P26) While the tribal form only 7 percent of the country's population, they account for almost 40 percent of the country's displaced population. (Internal Displacement in South Asia’, ibid, p138)
Case Study: The Narmada Valley Development Project
The Narmada Valley Development Project (NVDP) is supposed to be the most ambitions river valley development project in the world. (ibid, p299)It envisages building 3200 dams that will reconstitute the Narmada and her 419 tributaries into a series of step-reservoirs. (ibid, p299) Two of them the Sardar. Sarovar in Gujarat and the Bargi dam in Madhya Pradesh have already been built. This project is important for many reasons.
Firstly, the NVDP was described as ‘The world’s greatest planned environmental disaster’. (ibid, p116) According to one report, ‘the Narmada Valley Development Project will affect the lives of 25 million people who live in the valley and will alter the ecology of an entire river basin. (ibid, p299)
Secondly, the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), which was spearheaded by a women activist. Medha Patkar, revealed systematically for the first time how building dams can result in total dislocation of tribal societies. (ibid, p297) The Sardar Sarovar Project, often described as one of the most flawed projects, displaced largely the Tadvis, Vasavas, Bhils and the Bhilalas, but very few caste Hindus. (ibid, p15) Whereas the beneficiaries of the dam are meant to be large landowners, tribal people are paying the price.
Thirdly, the official figure has not counted people who will lose their livelihood as a result of the NVDP as project-affected families (PAFs). (ibid, p299)
Fourthly, the women from the affected tribal communities are the worst affected. The governmental relief programmes tend to overlook women’s crucial roles as producers, providers and organizers and have delivered assistance directly to male heads of households, whether it is food, seeds and tools or training. (ibid, p297) The reduces women’s influence over areas previously controlled by them such as the production and provision of food-undermining their position within the household and the community. (ibid, p297)In Sardar Sarovar Project women with land titles (Patta) were not given land for land. (ibid, p297)
Fifthly, Govt. of India had shown extreme negligence in time of rehabilitation and resettlement of the displaced in NVDP.
Thus, the catchall promises of development in India hide a shuffling mass of hundreds of thousands of families displaced by the inexorable engines of progress. (Pawns in the Development, by Walter Fernandes) Studies indicate that development – induced displacement has been one of the major causes of deprival of livelihood of the people in India. (Why Displaced Persons Reject Project Resettlement Colonies, by Mohammad Asif) According to one of the Indian leader,” If displacement is bad, not creating storage to avoid displacement of tribal communities is worse.” This is said by Reddy,quoted from However, I am not against development. But, as a human being, I want holistic development for the entire population. For this, government of India must manifest R&R policy fully and properly.
Nepal seemed to be lesser affected by the problem of development-induced displacement. Moreover, the absence of the records of the displacement helped in hiding the exact feature. However, there are displacement due to road construction, irrigation projects, airports, promulgation of national parks and watershed management projects. (‘Internal Displacement in South Asia’, ibid, p237) For example, I can refer to three projects-viz. Rara National Park, Kulekheni Hydroelectric Project and Marsyangdi Hydroelectric Project-which had displaced a number of peoples –viz. 331, 450 and 222 households. (ibid, p238-239)
Unlike other South Asian states, displaced people of Nepal got proper R&R. The affected people of Rara National Park project were compensated with land in Terrain plains in the south and additionally provided with facilities like food for a certain period, timber for construction of houses and there were provisions for tube wells and schools. (ibid, p238) Even after leaving the resettlement site, the displaced people got governmental support. In 1989 Harka Gurung found that those displaced from the area around the Rara Lake were better off economically at their new location with multisectoral governmental support. (ibid, p238)
However, government of Nepal cannot hold this good will in later projects. It gave the option of cash or land compensation in the Kulekhani Hydroelectric Project. (ibid, p238) But the affected households had become poorer than before even after getting compensation because the compensation was not at prevailing market price nor was the permanent loss of potential resources and the loss of production taken into consideration ((ibid, p238). Though the Govt. of Nepal had given compensation close to the market price in the Marsyangdi Hydroelectric Project, the majority of affected remain unaware of their legal right. (ibid, p238) Even the recommendations of the project consultants – like 15 percent disturbance allowance, special assistance to hardship cases, priority for employment on the project work and assistance to increase production on remaining land-was never implemented. (ibid, p239)
Nepal has a big potential for water resource development, for which development-related displacement is and will be a regular feature in the country. (ibid, p194) So the Govt. of Nepal must retains its good will and effort for the displaced with proper R&R policy in the future.
The country of Bangladesh is very remarkable in development-induced displacement. Though the Govt. of Bangladesh has not started any major developmental project, here we see some distinguish features of displacement.
Firstly, Bangladesh is a classic example of economic displacement. With the assistance of government, Bangladesh is gradually succumbing to monoculture of shrimp cultivation. (ibid, p194) As the shrimp cultivators do not use local labour for their farms, the indigenous people lost their livelihood. (ibid, p194) All of these are affecting not only the poor in the region, but more specially the women. (ibid, p201-203)
Secondly, here we see how the areas of developmental displacement can converted into the areas of conflict. The displacement of indigenous people from the CHT has been started from the construction of the Kaptai dam. But now CHT have become the volatile area of conflict between the Bengalees and indigenous people. Now, to minimize the power of the local people, government has been wooing the Bengalisation process as part of ‘development’ programme.
Thirdly, now the Govt. of Bangladesh is thinking to clean the urban areas. So it has started to evict the slums and the brothels. For example, I can refer to the forced eviction of the slums of Agargoan and brothels of Tanbazaar and Nimtoli.
As these developmental activities are not proper projects, the Govt. of Bangladesh is not giving R&R to the affected peoples. But the trauma and economic instability of the affected peoples is not lesser than those who are displaced by developmental projects. If Govt. of Bangladesh can understand this, it will be better for all Bangladeshis.
Thus we see how development often led to displacement in these South Asian countries. There are no records on development-induced displacement in other countries. But, surprisingly, there are developmental projects in all South Asian states. Academics of South Asia must research on that. All the states must develop proper R&R policy to give a better life to the displaced people. In next SAARC meetings if all the South Asian states develop a principle (like the Guiding Principles), which will give proper direction for the R&R policy for the displaced, it will be better for all South Asians.
[This paper was originally written as term paper assignment for the Third CRG Annual Winter Course on Forced Migration]

Forced Migration, immigration, racism and xenophobia in North East India

Inaotomba Thongbam
Literally, all the four key words in the title of the MCRG’s third winter course on forced migration - forced migration, immigration, racism and Xenophobia are either correlated or synonymous. The first two relates with movement of people owing to various factors in which racism is one of most important one. Racism induced people to flee their original or habitual place of settlement within or across the border thereby creating fear (xenophobia) amongst those receiving the displaced people.
The concern is growing over issue of displacement throughout the world. Several millions of people in every nooks and corners around the globe have been uprooted either by conflict, human rights violations, natural disasters and development projects which forced these uprooted people to take refuge within or across the borders. Taking refuge within borders of a particular country are termed Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and those across the borders - Refugees.
To begin with it will be worthwhile to define who the displaced persons are and the difference thereof between the IDPs and the refugees. There has been no internationally agreed upon definition of who an internally displaced persons are, yet, the United Nation’s current working definition holds internally displaced persons as those who have been forced to flee their homes suddenly in unexpectedly large numbers, as a results of armed conflict, internal strife, systematic violations of human rights and natural or man made disasters but continue to reside within the territory of their own country. This definition however is considered inappropriate and the IDPs have been aptly defined as persons or groups of persons who have been or are being forced to flee or leave their homes or places of habitual residences as a result of armed conflict, internal strife and systematic violation of human rights as well as natural or man-made disasters involving one or more of these elements, and who have not crossed an internationally recognized borders.
There are currently 25 million internally displaced persons uprooted by conflict and human rights violations worldwide. More millions of people have been uprooted either by natural disasters and development projects. Internal displacement is one of the more pressing humanitarian, human rights and security problems confronting the international community. Unlike refugees who cross national borders and benefited from an establish system of international protection and assistance, those forcibly uprooted people within their own countries lack predictable support. While primary responsibility for safeguarding security and welfare of the IDPs rests with their own governments, international community has an obligation to step in when government are unable to or unwilling to fulfill that responsibility.
Displacement has been and had been occurring too in north-eastern states of India where various tribes or ethnic communities having different cultures, customs and traditions settled from time immemorial. The region is ethnically diverse as out of 635 tribals categorized tribes in India, some 213 are found to be living in this predominantly hilly region. Though Hinduism, Christianity and Islam are practised extensively by people inhabiting in this region, large numbers of tribes still adhere to their animistic beliefs even as many of the tribes have been converted to major religions as did by the Meitei in Manipur to Sanamahi. Each of these tribes or indigenous communities have their own imagined homelands and tense situation often arise between battling ethnicity for demands of imagined homelands. Though the hills of the region were largely protected from large scale influx of outsiders, Assam and later Tripura were not and both the states were subjected to continuous influx from erstwhile East Bengal (Bangladesh). The influx people from East Bengal had already come to constitute as majority community in Tripura, the homeland of the indigenous Tripuris, who have become minority. Hindus and Muslims of Bengali decent account for more than 40 percent of the Assam 2.6 crore people (2001 census). A sizeable numbers of Nepalis, Bhutanese and others have also moved in to other states in the region.
The NE region is also marked with ethnic clashes and secessionist movements and counter insurgency operations thereof by government forces have led to substantial internal displacement in this region particularly in Assam, Manipur, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh. Other factors like development projects, natural disasters like floods and takeover of land by migrating communities have also led to large-scale displacement in this part of the country.
Manipur has witnessed substantial internal displacement and ethnic relocation in the wake of the Naga-Kuki and Kuki-Paite feuds in the 1990s that led to nearly 2000 deaths and rendering more than 30,000 homeless. Latest case of internal displacement due to ethnic strife is being witnessed in Karbi Anglong district in Assam where ethnic feuds between the Karbis and Dimasas have led thousands of people to flee conflict zone.
Large scale influx of Bengali speaking migrants from erstwhile East Pakistan to the north eastern region of India particularly in Assam, Tripura and Meghalaya have led to considerable xenophobia amongst original settlers of the region. Bengali migrants from erstwhile Bangladesh have reduced Tripuris in Tripura to a minority and similar is the case in Assam where almost 40 percent of the state’s 2 crore people are Bengali speaking migrants from Bangladesh. In search of economic activities and livelihood these migrants communities are spreading to other state of the region invisible. This has created much apprehension amongst indigenous communities inhabiting in the region.
Racism has been one of the main factors influencing force displacement as it had been and has been witnessing in different countries around the world. With its vague ideology of national building based on discriminatory, suppressive or racism based on racial origin has been the main factor enhancing displacement of people, both within the borders of a country and across the borders.
Racism can be defined as the belief that each race has certain qualities or abilities, giving rise to the belief that certain races are better than the others. It can also be defined as discrimination against or hostility towards other races or groups. In short race is a group of people or things with a common feature. Thus, racism can be defined as a prejudice that members of one race are intrinsically superior to members of other races. It can also be defined as a discriminatory or abusive behavior towards members of another race.
Racism or ideology of nationalism is the root cause of construction of a nation based on the common character of a group of people. Almost all the modern state in the world had evolved either through the route of racism or nationalism. The presently continuing process of nation-building as being waging across the world are based on the ideology of nationalism or racism. The emergence of Pakistan and Bangladesh marked by the large-scale displacement were products of nationalism based on religion. The continuing nation building process by the Nagas under the initiative of the NSCN(IM) in north east India is also based on racist design which had led to large scale forced displacement in Manipur during early part of 1990s till end the end of the last decade. Manipur is inhabited by around 33 different communities with different racial origins though most of them of mongoloid stock some of them have close affinity. One by tenth of the total geographical area of Manipur is comprised of hills and it is inhabited by tribes which can be broadly categorized as Nagas and Kuki-Chin-Mizo groups, the valley portion in the state is inhabited by the majority Meiteis and the Manipuri Muslim (Meitei Pangal). The Nagas and Meitei claimed to be original settlers of the present day Manipur and they have some similarities in customs, traditions and life-styles though majority of the people both the communities have adopted different religions. Before Hinduism and Christianity swept through valley and hills respectively, both the Meitei communities and many of subgroups of Nagas namely Kabuis, Tangkhuls etc were following animistic religion of Sanamahi, which is still predominantly practised by the Meiteis even as they have turned to Hinduism. Many folk based stories about relation between the Meiteis, Tangkhul and Kabuis are also found.
On the other hand the Kuki-Chin-Mizo groups are believed to have originated from the hills of Burma (Myanmar) and its surrounding hills and later migrated to neighboring hills and some finds their way to hills of Manipur and spread to other areas in the state. This particular groups is also said to be nomadic in nature and in due course of time these people migrated to the hills of Manipur in search of cultivable lands and other economic activities. However, both the Nagas and the Kuki-Chin groups practised Jhuming or shifting cultivation and they have similarities in mode of cultivation though they belong to entirely different racial stocks. People belonging to both the communities have been living together as neighbors before the NSCN(IM) started the movement for naga integration based on racist design. When the Naga integration movement in the line of nation building ideology move forward and visible, the Nagas under the initiative of the NSCN(IM) started attacking Kuki villages. At the same time, the Kukis too were in the process of launching a movement for a separate homeland and they too retaliated thereby leading to serious conflict between the communities during initial months of 1992. The ethnic feud continued till the last few years of the last century thereby leading to serious bloodbath and large-scale displacement of people of both the communities. An estimated figure of around 2000 people belonging to both the community loss their lives and as many as 30,000 of them were either shifted or relocated. Thus when we look back to root causes of conflict it is revealed that the ideology racism based on ethnic line had led to large-scale displacement of people.
The intense Naga-Kuki ethnic conflict in Manipur and one between the Kukis and Zomis in 1997, involving both armed underground groups and common people, though resolved at different levels with the efforts of nonpartisan communities and understanding amongst the underground outfits have serious repercussion leading to large scale displacement, forcing common people to flee their original place of settlement and moved to safer and economically viable areas. As a result, large number of people affected by ethnic clashes moved to villages and towns where there is sense of security and more economic opportunities, leading to marked demographic changes in hill districts of the state. The decadal variation of population in these districts showed marked variation as per 1991 and 2001 census. Population of state’s least populated district, Chandel was only 71,014 as per 1991 census but it had jumped to 1,18,327 in 2001, showing marked increase of 47,313. Decadal variation of population in Chandel district was 14,570 in 1981-1991. Four other hill districts of the state namely Senapati, Churachandpur, Ukhrul and Tamenglong also showed the same trend, while it is more or less normal in all the four valley districts, where Naga-Kuki or Kuki-Paite ethnic strife could gave any impact.
The growing concentration of communities based on tribe and clan line is also one direct repercussion of the ethnic clash, which has given severe impact to adult franchise as witnessed in the last Manipur Legislative Assembly election held in 2002. In the Parliamentary election of 2004, a candidate belonging to the Nagas snatch victory in the lone Outer Manipur seat, which was held earlier by Kuki candidates for two successive terms.
Relief and rehabilitation measures taken up by state government for the victims and resettlement of displaced villagers are far from satisfactory. During the intense Naga-Kuki clash in 1992, altogether 12167 families of both the communities were displaced but government provided assistance for construction of houses to only 2180 families and same is the case for the displaced victims of Kuki-Paite ethnic clash.
The increasing lack of economic opportunities, commercialization of life-styles, soaring prices of essential commodities and the widening gap between the rich and the poor, people all over the world have been grabbing every opportunities for earnings livelihood. Coupled with persistent financial crisis, people displaced by ethnic clashes in Manipur moved to towns and cities in search food and survival prompting them to adopt to various kinds of labour and physical jobs. Sudden increase of rickshaw puller in state’s capital, Imphal and its periphery, the increasing numbers of children working in hotels and restaurants in state capital and other towns are repercussions of these ethnic conflicts.
As per the Imphal Municipal Council source, there were some 2000 registered Rickshaw pullers in Imphal area in 1999-2000 however it jumped to over 10,000 in 2005. One main factor responsible for this abnormal increase is due to influx displaced people from hill area to the valley where there is more economic opportunities, security, better means of livelihood. Most of them are the Kukis hailing from interior areas of Manipur’s southern district of Churachandpur.
Similar is the case for children working in hotels and restaurants who have lost their relatives during the ethnic clashes. In the aftermath of the Naga-Kuki and Kuki-Paite ethnic clashes, a numbers of children home came up in the state housing those children uprooted by the ethnic strife.
The question of prostitution & AIDS and displaced person is the area, which has rarely been touched while discussing the issue of displacement. However, this particular issue has become one alarming problem being faced by contemporary Manipuri society where prostitution is socially unacceptable and prohibited. No specific area can be identified where this particular group of people are concentrated in Imphal area, but a voluntary women group identified 1172 such person in 2004-2005, which incidentally is said to be only 375 in 1999-2000. One main factor responsible this quantum jump is involvement in this trade by poverty stricken homeless young girls and women hailing from the hill area affected by the ethnic clashes. Addicted to drugs, alcohol and other psychotropic substances, most of these women are also vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. This is a growing concern in the state where HIV/AIDS prevalence cases are said to be highest in the country and the menace is threatening to engulf the Manipuri society.
The syllabus and reading material provided to participants of the CRG winter course on forced migration - 2005 have highlighted numerous cases of displacement happened and as happening in different in almost every nooks and corners of South Asia with relevant data and backgrounds. However, the core issue of providing relief and rehabilitation to the displaced people and the serious repercussion thereof brought about by displacement to the receiving society have rarely been highlighted or discussed.
[This paper was originally written as term paper assignment for the Third CRG Annual Winter Course on Forced Migration]

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Development Induced Internal Displacement in South Asia

Barnalee Choudhury
Entire South Asia has witnessed an enoromous rise of internal displacees in recent times caused by various factors like conflicts, natural calamities and development projects. While development should improve the living standards and bring happiness to all citizens, it often benefits the wealthier section, forcing the backward communities to leave their homes leading to extreme economic hardship, community disintegration, mental and physical problems. Develpoment projects lead to both direct and indirect displacement. The first occurs when people are physically forced to move from their ancestral homes while the latter occurs when development planning and policies constrain the livelihood to the degree that people decide to move on their own will.
Most of the newly independent nations of South Asia, namely Pakistan, India, Bangladesh etc, in order to attain rapid economic development have often ignored the problem of internal displacement. Development policies of these countries are not concerned about the resettlement of the oustees of the projects. The basic argument put forwarded here is that- someone has to suffer if the nation is to prosper. In almost all South Asian countries, governments donot keep the actual data relating to displacement. Besides, there is absence of clearcut policy of resettlement and rehabilitation of the displacees which makes the problem more complicated. These countries are not even following the UN Guiding Principles relating to internal displacement. It can be mentioned here that the problems relating to resettlement are mainly due to the inefficiency and inconsistencies of the institutions concerned.
Again, in this region, large numbers of farmers occupy land that is classified as non agricultural or non-arable and claimed by the state agencies. These people are never compensated for those losses. When the displacees move from their original habitats, they incur immense losses in life sustaining resources including social networks, neighbours and access to common property resources . Land or house possession in one’s place of origin cannot only be regarded as wealth creating resource, but also as the basis of status of identity. Here belonging is key to the enjoyment of rights. . Moreover, in tribal areas, people enjoy the common property resources, which are ignored by the rehabilitation packages. Again displacement of the tribal communities has often deteriorated the ethnic relations leading to conflict in this region. The plight of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are more pathetic than the refugees as the former cannot cross international borders and has to seek help from that authority responsible for their displacement.
Interestingly, in South Asia the internal displacees cannot be regarded as a national category since what happens inside a country has its implications on the neighbouring nations. E.g. the IDP problem in Myanmar has its implications for the minorities of Northeastern India and Bangladesh. Therefore, it is essential to regard them as regional categories.
In Pakistan most of the development projects have caused dislocation of human settlements and disturbed their livelihoods. The rural communities have been the major victims though the people of the semi-urban and urban areas also suffer from the negative effects of development. In all development projects, problems remain the same regarding compensation, resettlement and rehabilitation. In order to solve the financial problems in post-independent era, all governments in Pakistan have been emphasising on industrialisation. As a result, a huge number of people become homeless in their own country. The period of President Ayub Khan (1958-69) known as ‘Decade of Development’, shows good performance in terms of economic growth, but fails to address the issue of equitable distribution of resources among all classes. Although, many development programmes are being introduced to eradicate poverty, illeteracy, population explosion etc., Pakistan is yet to achieve the goal of sustainable development and social justice.
Like many other South Asian countries in India also, there is no reliable official statistics regarding the number of development induced displacees. Displacement was regarded as an unavoidable corollary of development here. According to official estimate the number of such displacees is 15.5 million in 1994. But calculations on the basis of the number of dams built in the country, that figure may go upto 21 to 33 million. According to an estimate, development projects have directly displaced about 21 million people during 1955-90. Besides, these projects have deprived a huge number of peolpe of their means of livelihood causing indirect displacement.
In Nepal populations have been displaced for irrigation schemes, airports, promulgation of national parks etc. Here also, it is very difficult to find figures relating to the number of displacees. In many projects, land was acquired without any coherent plan. According to available data, there were between 6,00,000 and 1 million IDPs in Myanmar in 2002. Dams have caused displacement of good number of people in this country and these IDPs in Myanmar are deprived of the basic amenities of life. Such displacement has mostly affected ethnic minority groups of the nation. In countries like Sri Lanka and Afghanistan conflict-induced displacees outnumber the development-induced displacees. Nevertheless, many people are displaced by developlment and infrastructural projects in these countries and they live in a very pathetic condition.
In the following section, I intend to deal with how different development projects have intensified the problem of development induced displacement in SouthAsia.
Dams and hydropower projects have been the major source of displacement in South Asia. In most of the countries of this region, dams are worshipped and regarded as prerequisite of development. Till now Pakistan has 81 large, medium and small dams contributing to the problem of displacement. Concern for resettlement of victims has always been secondary in project plans. Many displacees of Ghaji Barotha Hydropower project are awaiting implementation of the resettlement projects. There are inconsistencies in the award of compensation measures. In Ghazi-Barotha Dam project a comprehensive resettlement plan has been incorporated. The total number of affected persons of this project are 21,653. The Resettlement plan’s objective conform to the Asian Development Bank’s resettlement policy objectives. The project was expected to be a model for future initiatives as it was addressing issues that were ignored by earlier projects. However, it is unfortunate that in 2002 the National Accountability Bureau and the Regional Accountability Bureau launched an inqury into the irregularities and malpractices in awarding of compensations to the victims and termed it as the biggest ‘Land Acquisition Scam’ in South Asia.
Without any plan for rehabilitation and resettlement, the Pakistan government has introduced another hydropower project ‘Vision 2025’, including many small and big dams, water reservoirs, expressways, highways, roads, canals etc. It will definitely aggravate the problem of internal displacement in Pakistan. Again, number of displacees as estimated by the government is often less than estimated by NGOs. E.g. the Mangla Dam, world’s third largest earth-filled dam, has diplaced 5,000 persons according to official statistics, but independent agencies show the figure as 30,000. The victims did not get proper compensation. Now the Pakistan Government is raising the height of this dam by 40 feet ignoring protests from various sections. It would affect another 40,000 people.
Tarbela Dam of Pakistan launched in 1967 had displaced 96,000 persons and 120 villages came under water. The promised compensation package did never materialise. About 2100 families are still waiting to get due compensation. The Report of the World Commission on Dams has revealed that out of 96,000 displacees of Tarbela Dam, two-thirds are expected to get agricultural land. Of these 20,000 people could not be provided land due to shortage. Nor the victims receive adequate compensation to buy alternate land. In Kalabagh dam, the total estimated population to be affected is 83,000. A comprehensive resettlement plan has been designed but a section of people have reservations about it for its negative effects. In the face of the pressure from political parties as well as civil groups, the Kalabagh Dam could not be included in the ‘Vision 2025’.
Dam building was equated with nation buiding in India. During the last 50 years almost 3300 big dams have been constructed in India. Whearas the beneficiaries of the dam are meant to be large landowners, tribal people are paying the price. Here also big gap exists in the estimate of displacees by the government and NGOs. In case of Narmada dam, the official figure states that it would displace about 42,000 families wheras the NBA put the figure at 85,000 families or 5,00000 persons. In West Bengal about 3000 big and medium dams have adversely affected the weaker section of the society. At present 700 dams are under construction and these will definitely increase the displacement problem in the state.
India’s Northeast also suffers from this problem. Here the development projects undertaken by central and state government have displaced a good number of people, mostly belonging to tribal and backward communities. The Dumbur dam of Tripura displaced a total of 35,000-40,000 people. The Loktak hydel project in Manipur displaced around 20,000 people as their villages went under water. The Pagladiya Dam Project of lower Assam is going to displace 1,50,000 people, but according to official estimate it would affect only 18,000 persons. Likewise, Tipaimukh project is displacing 40,000 people. In Arunachal Pradesh more than 20,000 would be displaced by the Siang project. In recent times, the Indian government is planning to set up a number development projects like dams in Northeast, contributing further towards the problem of internal displacement as well as ethnic conflicts.
In the Kulekhani Hydroelectric Project of Nepal, the affected 3000 population were not compensated adequately. Moreover, the permanent losses were not taken into consideration. So the majority of the affected houses become poorer. Marsyangdi Hydroelectric Project in this country, displaced a population of about 1800. Compensation was given only in cash. The full information on the reasons and procedures of displacement has not been provided to the IDPs or would be IDPs in theses projects. Hence, the displacees are deprived of many of their legal rights.
The process of urbanisation has also contributed significantly towards the problem of internal displacement in South Asia. Islamabad Capital Territory was created to develop a new capital displacing many in Pakistan. Although cash compensation and land on concessionaire rates were given to victims, it was not free from anamolies. Eviction drives are taken almost on a routine manner causing displacement of population in cities like Kolkata. Even in Delhi, the High Court has ordered demolition of jhuggi (shanty house) settlements on public road which will demolish the homes of more than 3 million to make a clean and green city. In Bangladesh, the governments often resort to violent eviction of slums in Dhaka, making several thousands of slum dwellers homeless. The people living in the slums are very poor and after eviction, they become further marginalised. In Agargaon area of the city, for eviction of slums the police raided the houses arresting, looting and harassing families and raping women. Data shows the number of families in slums has been decreased from 13,613 on July, 2001 to 4,620 on 10thMarch, 2002. This method of eviction is the violation of human dignity and fundamental rights of the poor. Thus, in the name of planned urban development people are being displaced in South Asia.
Construction of roads have also displaced a good number of people in this region. National Motorway Network Project consisting of 10 projects was launched in the early 90’s in Pakistan. Thousands of families living on the periphery of the newly constructed motorway faced extreme difficulties which included division of their lands, stoppage of water supply lines, blockage of approach ways to cattle grazing grounds, human settlements and displacement of the people. The project was carried out with such irresponsibility and haphazard planning that it disturbed the entire cultural habitat and livelihood patterns of the area. Moreover, compensation was paid only to those whose lands were acquired for building metalled road. Lyari Expressway Project of Pakistan is going to displace a population of 2,03,200 and will hit mostly the urban poor in Karachi. In all 25,000 houses, 3600 shops and commercial units, 50 mosques, 5 churches, 8 temples, 10 schools, 38 clinics, 1 hospital and 66 factories would be destroyed by the project. Many big and small NGOs are protesting against it, but the government is determined to carry out the project. It has created a lot of confusion among the displaced communities as they were not taken into confidence. Nepal have also witnessed the same problem. However, there exists no records of compensation for the land acquired by many projects. The construction of infrastructural projects have also caused dislocation of population in Myanmar.
In this way, development related displacement has become a regular feature in South Asia. In countries like Nepal the problem will continue to be so as the country has a big potential for water resources and there is absence of other major economic resources.. Besides, the oil and gas fields in Northeast India have also displaced a huge number of population. Paper mills in Assam and Nagaland have displaced more than 10,000 people. Many gas based thermal projects are still in the pipeline in Tripura, which will definitely aggravate the problem of internal displacement in this region.
As stated earlier, the IDPs of this region face lot of hardships. However, the women and children are more vulnearable. Women as the marginalised entities within the marginalised group are often forced to shoulder the negative affects of displacement. The worst victims of such projects are those women participating in the economic activity of the family. The women heads are even denied the status of PAF. The cash compensation usually disempowers women who lack the experience of handling financial matter. The disintegration of social network of the displaced community makes them more vulnearable. The women head of the families always find it difficult to pursue their cases with the department dealing with compensation or allotment of land. The National Commission of Women noticed that in the Tehri Dam the displaced women lost their share of livelihood and the area where they are relocated did not provide them with the supplementary sources of income. Again, one method of eviction in the cities has been to enter an area and beat up women and children. They are not safe in resettlement sites also. Sometimes women are not recognised as the owners of land. So the development projects besides displacing thousands of families have also caused severe disempowerment of women in this region.
Thus, in the South Asian countries, displacement owing to development presents a grim scenario that includes landlessness, unemployment, homelessness, marginalisation, lack of food, loss of common resources and breakdown of social networks. As mentioned earlier, the nations donot have proper resettlement policy and law on resettlement and compensation issues. Apart from lack of commitment of government towards the implementation of resttlement guidelines, there are other factors that harm the IDPs. These include the absence of community participation and inadequate funding for compensation. It also includes incompatibility of ethnic background, clash of interests between the host community and resettled families and lack of support services as well as social organisations processes to integrate the resettled population in the local communities. Moreover, implementation of resettlement action plans is faulty and poor. All these inadequacies exist in almost all the projects. In some cases families were displaced twice as the design of the project was modified.
Importantly, in the course of developmental process in South Asia, it is often the indigenous people and the minority communities who get displaced. Among these communities, the more victimised such as women, children, old and the infirm are further abused and marginalised. Government and NGOs should take such measures so that they are not discriminated in receiving compensation. Michael Cernea has rightly stated that the risk of impoverishment is intrisically present in displacement regardless of its causes. The major challenge for the nations is risk prevention and providing safeguards. The problem of displacement should not be seen as temporary. Rather, it should be regarded as a crime against humanity. A separate legal regime is necessary to deal with the whole problem. However, the same set of laws cannot be applied to all types of displacement. There is an urgent need to protect people against such displacement and evolve an alternative method of development. When displacement becomes unavoidable, steps should be taken to protect the victims during displacement and proper resettlement and reintegration of the people should be provided.
Some NGOs are championing the cause of the displacees of development projects. Their activities include : Policy advocacy, awarenes raising, research and pressure group activities. It is often found that dams are built, people are uprooted and then the project is abandoned. So none can enjoy benefits. Although resistance has come from the victims with the support of the civil society and NGOs, it has not achieved complete success. But this should be regarded as a positive development as the common people are becoming aware of their rights and started questioning the legitimate authority of the state. The need of the hour is to evolve a people friendly model of development to avoid the problem of displacement. So, we need a humanistic approach to understand the physical as well as the psychological trauma of the displacees which is often overlooked by the people in power.
[This paper was originally written as term paper assignment for the Third CRG Annual Winter Course on Forced Migration]