Thursday, March 31, 2011

Displacement and Rehabilitation: Solutions for the Future

Nanda Kishor M S
[Consultant, Centre for Energy, Environment, Urban Governance & Infrastructure Development, Administrative Staff College of India]

Recently in the month of November 2010, National Institute of Technology (NIT) Rourkela, Orissa, had organized an International Conference on “Displacement and Rehabilitation: Solutions for the Future”. The conference lasted for two days with some concrete discussions on the latest developments and trends in displacement and resettlement pattern.

There were sessions in which bureaucrats were of the opinion that the NGO’s and some civil society groups in the name of protecting the rights of the displaced and tribals are making money and hampering the growth of the country. This comment came from none other than Prof. A B Ota (IAS) Director SCSTRTI, Bhubaneswar. This came as a mere shock as he was addressing a gathering in an academic institution and in front of large number of academicians from all over the world. This approach was severely criticized by the speakers who were in the session held after the paper of A.B Ota. The gathering also took strong opposition such type of categorical statements, and unanimously agreed that being academicians and activists we should not conceive to the notion of the State in sensitive issues like displacement.

There were five sessions of which three sessions having 29 papers were deliberated on 13th Nov and two sessions having 13 papers were deliberated on 14th Nov, 2010. The papers centered around the themes like ‘Issues on Displacement and livelihood’; ‘Gender, Ethnicity Indigenous Communities and R& R issues’; ‘Rehabilitation Policy and Implementation Issues’ on 13th Nov and ; ‘ Civil Society and Corporate Bodies’; and ‘Displacement and People’s Response’ on 14th Nov 2010 followed by the valediction being chaired by Prof. Premananda Panda, a practicing anthropologist of Sambalpur University .

The theme oriented sessions of the conference were chaired by Prof R Siva Prasad, Prof. S.N.Tripathy, Prof in economics and Head , Centre for Exclusion Studies and Inclusive Policy, Gokhle Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune, Prof. Premananda Panda and Prof Bhasakar Majumdar, Prof. in Economics, G.B.Panth Institute, Allahabad, D.P. Mishra, GM, Nilanchal Ispat, Odisha.

Penal members being authorized by the floor participants of the Conference recommended the following:

•Since most of the displaced are SC and ST and have the history of being marginalized, the displacement of people should be avoided as far as possible. In unavoidable situation the displaced families should be resettled in the spirit of ‘community transplanted’ so that the displaced will have less scope to feel alienated from their cultural ecology.
•The PESA Act be extended to all non-PESA Mineral belt rural and tribal; areas with spirit and words and non-coercive open discussion / public hearing be encouraged and in it the emergent consensus be put to action .
•The quality of existing human resources of the people are likely to be displaced due to forthcoming projects. So, it is need of the hour to make them the beneficiaries of the projects almost at par with the project personnel on pay roll
•Beside the usual compensation assessments made on tangible substances of the displaced, the intangibles like loss of indigenous social support system, the cost of culture, cost of loss of skill and techniques be assessed and accordingly compensation payment be extended.
•After duly rehabilitated and resettled a fixed share of the profit incurred by the organization be made available to the displaced for whom the project could grow and the government being the acquiring body take the responsibility in streamlining the benefits through effective loss of seepage of benefit to the affected people.
•CSR be mandatory and be a part of constant and continuous process to empower the affected families at least for two generations.
•The Panchayat (Extension to the Tribal Areas) Act 1996 is the Most Revolutionary legislation. Powers vested in the Gram Sabhas but the definition of Gram Sabhas is different and based on localities. Consultation with the Gram Sabhas at the appropriate levels before making acquisition for development projects should be a mandatory. It should be cross checked by a expert committee before any displacement.
•Amendment to the Land Acquisition Act in the following areas important- Most significant amendment to LA Act is doing away with Schedule II of the Act; land acquisition for the private companies will not be possible in the same manner as earlier;
-Public Purpose defined; exclusive and inclusive definition;
-Consultation with Gram Sabha mandatory for consensus before acquisition;
-Power of restoration of the alienated land very significant;

•The training different traits for entrepreneurship to the youth of the likely to be displaced families be given so as to get observed in the organizations for which they are displaced.
•Societal Cost Benefit Analysis of Project should be undertaken before expressing the intent of any project, and the result should be widely circulated in local language to affected families and general public.
•The formation of all evaluating committees should comprise of stakeholders, academia, civil society, and government representatives
•Notification should be widely circulated and publicized in local and language of the ethnic/tribal groups
•Compulsory Social Impact Assessment with respect to Cultivation and CPR Rights should be undertaken
•Compulsory Pre and Post - Environmental Impact Assessment with reference to Tribal Rights, CPR and Carrying Capacity should be undertaken
•Resettlement/Rehabilitation area should be identified in consultation with and with the participation of the people who would be affected.
•Gender participation should be integrated fully in all the processes, consultation, design, and implementation in achieving consensus.
•All the relocation should be in similar geographical terrain, without the loss of cultural and communitarian identity
•No minimum number of households should be laid down for qualification for compensation and R&R
•Resettlement areas should cover or include all sources of livelihood- such as agriculture, horticulture, livestock, fishing, forestry, artisans, CPR products, shops, SSIs, OAME-Own Account Manufacturing Enterprises, family enterprises
•Resettlement sites should be fully developed before any relocation or resettlement including houses, sanitation, schools, drainage, community hall, wells/drinking water, roads, health centers, Ration Shops, Common space- play ground, burial/ crematorium ground, spaces for cultural reproduction , green cover.
•While constructing houses size of the family, needs of the family and future expansion of the family should be taken into account. All the houses should designed in consultation with the affected communities. All houses should be accompanied by homestead land. Ownership right of the house including homestead should be in the names of the husband and wife, and solely in the name of women in the case of female headed house
•Compensation should include all economic and social aspects, including monetary, land, live stocks, CPRs- both priced and un-priced equipment, wells, trees, houses etc
•The resettled area should have full facilities interns of micro finance, SHGs, extension services, with subsidies being provided for all livelihood.
•There should be gender parity with regard to compensation irrespective of age and marital status
•Single window disbursement of beneficiary scheme should be adopted
•All self governance institutions such as Gram Sabhas should be constituted immediately after the rehabilitation with fifty percent gender representation
•All the rehabilitated areas should be declared as revenue villages with the power of PESA even if it is not in scheduled area and scheduled areas in respect of tribals.
•Compulsory employment for at least one member of the displaced community be made available
•Free vocational training and skill up gradation must be provided by new projects from day of MOU with Govt. till the organizations continues to survive
•Amount of compensation to landless should be based on man days and prevailing wages
•It should be made mandatory for the project authorities to sponsor the education of the deserving children from the displaced families.
•The Government should set up committees to look into the matters of resettlement and rehabilitation of the displaced families of the old projects, (projects taken up during/after the 1950s and before 2006), where still many issues remain unsolved.
•Land pattas should be issued to the families in the resettlement colonies, (where it has still not been done) which are very essential for the future education of their children (for getting residential certificates).
•The different bodies under the national skill development programme should take up skill development initiatives in the resettlement colonies on a priority basis.
•Displacement has important psychological implications. Therefore, counseling centers should be there in the resettlement colonies which can help in finding out the psychological effects of displacement on children and how it affects their socialization process.
•The Government must make provisions for regular follow up actions, in order to ensure that the rehabilitation measures have been effective. The National R&R Policy 2007 should be made an Act and it should be enforced with uniform guidelines in all the states of India /The Orissa R&R policy should be made an Act so that strict compliance can be ensured.

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