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Scrutiny
  
Dam’d if you do; dam’d if you don’t!
Governments rarely consider rehabilitation while drafting dam projects
24/07/2008

Dam’n it! We’ll jump directly to the point. There are over 50 million people displaced in the country so far since 50s. Land owners or tenants who occupy the land were compensated monetarily which was never enough to resettle.

The example of Hirakud dam (1957) is a case to point. The government acquired over 727 sq. km of land under the imperialistic Land Acquisition Law, which displaced over 1.8 lakh people. Though later, experiencing the severity of displacement and sufferance of affected families, a policy was finally adopted for rehabilitation and resettlement of displaced people; but as always, it remained on paper only. On another front, after the uproar of the Narmada project, a special World Bank team, Morse Committee, concluded in 1992 that relocating displaced people is impossible (unless resettlement plans have been made in advance); but Indian governments continued with the projects without any such plan.

The problem is that such rehabilitation moves are completely subject to political deviancies, wherein one government might be appreciative of the same – to earn brownie points – but another government, from another political camp, might be totally against the implementation of the same. Sadly, even celebrities lose no time in jumping on the media bandwagon to cry hoarse about their support (or lack of it) to the ‘movement’.

Can’t an Indian government just face up to the current reality and do something about such problems in relocation and resettlement. For crying shame, a formal Rehabilitation & Resettlement Bill was passed finally only in the year 2007, a full sixty years after Independence. We suspect it’ll take another sixty before they put the Bill into action...

By:- B&E
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