Monday, April 28, 2008

Riverbank Erosion and Displacement of Women in West Bengal

Debdatta Chowdhury

The report on the hearing of thousands of erosion victim’s cases in a single day, in The Telegraph (Monday 31 March 2008) was definitely assuring, of a legal system that is often accused of being ill-equipped to handle the rights of the people, specially the poor and the vulnerable. Thousands of people who lost their lands and livelihood to erosion, caused by River Ganga in the past two decades had their cases heard at Malda College acting as the venue for the Lok Adalat. This surely goes to show that dispensation of justice is, after all, not as difficult as is often made out to be by the legal system.

Not that this event comes without its share of dialogues and campaigns. Calcutta Research Group has been one of the most important dialogue bodies working towards the rights of the erosion victims. Through its numerous conferences and workshops on the causes and consequences of river erosion and ways to resettle and render justice to the erosion-victims and through the field studies of the erosion-prone river banks of Malda, CRG has been an active platform for the vulnerable lot.

Though this event of justice dispersion goes to the credit of the legal system and the ministry in-charge of land rights, organizations like CRG deserve their share of appreciation for at least keeping these neglected yet pressing issues active and ‘in discussion’.

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