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]


Anonymous said...

The article should have more hard data. Only fieldwork can generate that. There is no evidence of such work. These are cases where increasingly detailed studies are necessary. / A NE Observer

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

This definitely looks like a term paper rather than a researched article

Anonymous said...


Dear Sir,
From 1972 after independent, Bangladesh Nationals started to set up small scale Industries investing family resources ,using Innovative Technology as self earner so as to produce daily necessities and to achieve economic freedom & for creation of jobs for millions of unemployed
Government also started to help these fast growing PRIVATE SECTOR INDUSTRIES AS IMPORT SUBSITUTES and for EXPORT having fund from International Loan Giving Agencies and are distributed through different Banks from 1979
But the Owners of these Industries became helpless victims of continuous harassment, willful negligence’s, malice activities anti propaganda including fraudulent activities of Bank Officials due to lack of any effective laws to protect the owner of Private Industries till date
The Bank officials failed to fixed up production capacity of imported machineries, to provide minimum required working capital in. time and all these have been done willfully and in pre planed way to jeopardize the Government Industrial Policy as well to terrorize the Owners of Industries of Private Sector finally to occupy the mortgage properties of the owner of the Industries of Private Sector. As a result Thousands of Industries have been destroyed by Bank Officials.
Over and above due to illiteracy, ignorance and extreme poverty of vast majority of Bangladesh Citizens Bank Officials managing the concern authority enacted black / oppressive laws to hide out their offences denying the right of Owner of Industries.
Now in Bangladesh due to such laws the Courts are compelled to protect the offences of Bank Officials openly. .
This is another type Conspiracy to damaged or tarnish the image of Judiciary for creating uncertainty and total insecurity in the society .
Most of the Industries have became in-operatives and have lost their cash capitals, growth rate , and expatriate capabilities and became helpless victims of oppressive/ black laws due to absence of minimum accountability and laws to protect the owners of industries.

In 1992 & 1996 Government of Bangladesh identified and registered many Industries as SICK INDUSTRIES declaring not as Defaulter of Bank Loan but victims of Violation of Contract , Negligence , Fraudulent Activities or Malpractices of Bank Officials. due to Lack of Accountability. Which are no more a hidden matter.
THE HELPLESS OWNERS OF INDUSTRIES ARE LOOKING FOR JUSTICE, BUT THE DOOR OF JUSTICE ARE TOTALLY CLOSED due to enactment of ARTHA RIN ADALAT ACT ( Bank Loan Recovery Act ) on 1989 which were amended on 2003 and 2007
And Bankruptcy Acts of 1997 depriving the Owners of Industries from not only basic right but also from fair justice like those of Colonial Period WHEN THE HANDS OF THE PRODUCER AND TECHNICIAN OF MOSLIN FABRICS ( which were only produced in Bengal of undivided INDIA) were cut down to stop production of Finest Fabrics by Bengali Technicians and Producer.

It is heard out of Total of outstanding defaulted Bank Loans, about 60 to 70 % are lying with Nationalized / State Sector and less then 10 % are lying with Small and Medium sized Industries of Private Sector . And Bank Official can explain well about the remaining of the Loan Amount.


Due to which BANGLADESH HAS BECOME A HEAVEN FOR REPRESSION / EXPLOITATION forcing the process of increasing Poverty level in geometric rate , helping the process of Lawlessness , Social Restlessness , Insecurity for life and Properties of citizen which are at increasing rate now a days .
The Owners of Industries of Private Sector can not claim any set – off or compensation on the suit filed by BANK & OTHER THE LOAN GIVING AGENCIES for Loan Recovery under Artha. Rin Act for the above offences .like violation of contract, negligence, malpractices and fraudulent activities.
AS A RESULT NUMBER OF SICK / DISTRESSED INDUSTRIES are increasing in every year due to lack of accountability of Bank Officials. And other lending agencies .

BANKS or OTHER LOAN GIVING AGENCIES HAVE BEEN ALLOWED TOTAL INDEMNITY OF LAW for violation of contract , negligence, fraudulent activities and malpractices , . These have been done to hide out existing high profile malpractices and corruptions as per opinion of Expert Personals.
The Owner of Industries of Private Sector have no Legal Right to protect themselves from the oppression of Bank Officials and lending agencies which are now known to all , no more a hidden matter ,rather a part of the on going conspiracy to destroy the piece , security including individuals life and properties. .
Although in neighboring countries Like INDIA there are “ DEBT RECOVERY TRIBUNALS (DRT)”FOR LOAN RECOVERY where the Owner of Industries or Borrowers are allowed to claim Set off or claim compensation in same suit as filed by the Banks or Loan Giving Agencies or can run compensation suit simultaneously also.
But in BANGLADESH Owner of Industries or Other Borrowers of Bank Money or other lending agencies are completely deprived of any of such opportunity rather with provisions to hide out malpractices , violation of contract , negligence and fraudulent activities of Bank Officials & loan giving agencies have been given TOTAL INDEMNITY OR LICIENCE FOR UNENDING CORRUPTION OR MAL PRACTICES or Violation of Contracts & negligence with vested interest
And Owner of Industries or Borrowers of Bank loans are completely deprived of any type of JUSCTICE
Common people are also facing another type of repression UNDER CERTIFICATE CASE for realization of Government Taxes . small loan of farmers , weavers etc ,
Industrial Entrepreneurs can only file separate suit for compensation in a separate Civil Court which will be a matter of life long litigation with of no result due to absence of TORT LAW
As per Artha Rin Act nothing can be raised against the Order or Decree of Artha Rin Court to Higher Court without Payment of 50 % of the suit value or Decretal Amount as such no one can go for appeal to the higher court

The door of justice as a whole are closed denying the Legal right of Owners of Industries. as per Sections 12, 12 ( kha) , 18(2) & (3),19, 20,21,33, 34,40,41,42,44, 47 and 50 of Artha Rin Act.
The above mentioned Section of Arthan Rin Act are conflicting with ARTICLE 8, 15, 26, AND 27 of BANGLADESH CONSTITUTION AND THE GOVERNMENT INDUSTRIAL POLICY AS ADOPTED TIME TO TIME & major obstruction for democratic process & may encourage to force Citizen to frustration . Shall help Wrong Doer also .
Now there are no other alternative way or remedies , but to draw the attention of concern Authority of Bangladesh Government including PATRIOT POLITICALL EADER, CIVIL SERVANT, INTELLECTUAL PERSONS, LEADER OF CIVIL SOCIETY AS WELL AS INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY TO VERYFY the above laws and help for restoring EQUAL RIGHT for JUSTICE . and to help and Protect the Owner of Industries including Workers, Staffs of Industries who are already in Distressed Condition due to lapses of Policy Maker an Bank Officials and of the Oppressive / Black Laws .
And to help just to restore the accountability in all organizations including BANKS other Loan Giving Agencies etc for the greater Interest of Nations.
We would also request to kindly Circulate this appeal among Honorable Members , Partners of your organizations or in your News Bulletins and in Printed or Electronic News Media for Transmission this appeal among all organizations working for suffering peoples and to come forward to PREVENT LEGAL ABUSE and OPPRESSIVE LAWS and also to consider the followings :

1-. Humble Appeal before the Government of Bangladesh to amend the above laws allowing Owners of Industries to claim SET OFF or COMPENSATIONS for Negligence , Violation of Contract , Fraudulent or Malice Activities in the same suit filed by Bank or loan giving agencies as of the similar provision of DRT ( DEBT RECOVERY TRIBUNALS ) OF INDIA

2- Considering the heavy Loss / Damages of Government Registered & Identified SICK INDUSTRIES of 1992 & 1996 may of kindly be granted 100 % weaver of all types of Bank Loan closing all Pending Suits for recovery of Loan unconditionally .

3- The Existing System of Mortgage of Landed Properties as security / co lateral securities need to be completely abolished to stop ever growing corruption , malpractices and fraudulent activities which exist in Banking Sector and are much Proven Facts for the greater interest. of the Nation .

4- All pending Suits in Atrha Rin Court may kindly be transferred to Civil Commercial Court abolishing Sections 12, 12( kha) , 18(2) & 18(3), 19,20,21,33, 34,40,41,42,44,47 and 50 of Artha Rin Acts including Sections 28 ( Kha) of Banking Company Act Creating Democratic Opportunities similar to DEBT RECOVERY TRIBUNAL S ( DRT ) of INDIA for the end of JUSTICE or may be include compulsory arbitration law for finding the malpractices, negligence and to fixed up the responsibilities.

5- And to take immediate steps to abolish the system of CERTIFICASE CASE which are nothing but
abuse of LAW and worst one like that of COLONIAL RULE .

6- And such laws are compelling the judiciaries to protect& help - the offenders or wrong doer openly.

Suffering Groups of Owners of Industries of Bangladesh.

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