Development and Displacement

"If you are to suffer, you should suffer in the interest of the country.”

  - Jawaharlal Nehru, speaking to villagers who were to be displaced by the Hirakud Dam, 1948.

Development induced displacement

Since India's independence in 1947, there has been a surge of economic development activities in the form of massive infrastructure development projects such as the construction of dams for power and irrigation, the building of roads, urbanization, mining, building of thermal power plants, etc. Proponents of large dams argue that only these types of massive projects can improve India's economy and the lives of millions of people. But the flip side of this sort of development is that it has displaced more than 42 million people in the country.

            

Doomed by Displacement-A Short Film on the displaced affected by Hirakud Dam 

Dams for irrigation and hydropower are a major cause of such forced displacement. World over “approximately fifteen million people each year are forced to leave their homes following big development projects.” [Bogumil Terminski, Environmentally Induced Displacement. Theoretical Frameworks and Current Challenges, Liege, 2012].

The poorest and most marginalized people are generally hit the hardest by displacement, most often without adequate compensation. Many displaced families have been displaced three or four times. “In India, 50 million people have been displaced in the last 50 years in the name of ‘national’ interest“. [Parshuram Ray, Development Induced Displacement in India, SARWATCH Vol. 2 No. 1 July 2000).

Official figures of the number of displaced people are just underestimates. This is usually done to present a good cost benefit ratio to project clearance agencies and funders. The World Bank has put the number of people displaced by the Farakka Super Thermal Power plant in West Bengal as 63325 while Indian government figures suggest that no one was displaced. [Walter Fernandes, Displacement - What is all the fuss about? Humanscape, November 1999]. In the case of the Bargi dam, the number of villages submerged increased from the initial figure of 101 to 162. Likewise, in the case of various other large dams in the country, the number of submerged villages has increased and estimates of displaced villages have failed, which lead to unplanned displacement.

History of dams and displacement

Most of the displacement in India is due to the construction of large dams. The lives and livelihoods of millions of displaced people across the country have been destroyed, but the state governments are still not interested in addressing basic issues related to the displaced. “The millions of displaced people in India are nothing but refugees of an unacknowledged war.”(Arundhati Roy, The Greater Common Good, Frontline, June 4, 1999).

The callous attitude of the state can be attributed to the fact that “most displaced persons are assetless rural poor like landless labourers and small and marginal farmers (Gandhi’s last man). The tribals who comprise 8.08% of India’s population are estimated to be more than 40% of the displaced population. Dalits constitute 20% of displaced persons.” [Walter Fernandes, Displacement - What is all the fuss about? Humanscape, November 1999]

     

From Development To Displacement- A short film on the displacement due to Bargi dam, Madhya Pradesh

Displacements due to dams and canals have been traumatic and dehumanising. The displaced family's livelihood, their family, kinship systems, cultural identity and informal social networks were badly affected and disrupted.The condition of the women is even more traumatic. Lack of policy framework and social securities has made them insecure and psychologically very weak.

The monetary compensation paid to the displaced was not enough to sustain their livelihoods. The lame assurances by the government has never become a reality and it has lead to tragic consequences. Large-scale dam building has been able to deliver very little in terms of benefits. Many projects are able to irrigate just 20% of the command area but the harm they do to the environment and people is immense.

Rehabilitation and resettlement: Policy framework

Massive land acquisition has taken place in India since the 1950s to build large projects for irrigation, power, steel and heavy industries. Yet we did not have proper laws to address the rehabilitation and resettlement issues of the displaced. After a long struggle by people’s organisations and environmental groups, the protest against displacement grew violent and the need for a policy and legal framework came into existence in 2007 when the Government of India formulated a national policy for rehabilitation and resettlement by replacing the earlier policy of 2003.

Till date, there is no policy which suggests alternatives for displacement.

In August 2013, the Government of India came up with a comprehensive Land Acquisition and Resettlement and Rehabilitation (LARR) Act, 2013. The Act provides for rehabilitation & resettlement and combines it with land acquisition so the former does not get neglected. The ‘public purpose’ for which land can be acquired by the government is defined.

As per the above legislation, a comprehensive rehabilitation and resettlement package is provided for those who lost their livelihood support which includes the landless and tenants. The Act also provides for schools and playgrounds, health centers, roads and electric connections and assured sources of safe drinking water for each family. The role of the gram sabha has been clearly stressed and the government has to consult them. The Government has to also comply with other laws like Panchayat (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA), 1996; the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006; and Land Transfer Regulations in Schedule V (Tribal) Areas.

Damning the dam: Case of Narmada Bachao Andolan

Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), a struggle against several major dams across the Narmada river in the states of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh is a leading anti-dam movement in the world. The government went ahead with the decision of the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal (NWDT) in 1979 to construct some 30 major, 135 medium and 3000 small dams. The locals opposed the construction of the large dams as the government had not only flouted environmental norms, but also did not have a rehabilitation policy in place then. The dams were displacing large numbers of poor (dalits and tribals). The main flash point of the movement was on the question of raising the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam in Gujarat.

A Narmada Diary: Documentary by Anand Patwardhan

The dam proponents were pushing it because it would generate water (for irrigation and drinking water) and much needed power for development purposes. Activists like Medha Patkar who set up NBA in 1989, provided a strong critique to the project by the Narmada Valley Development Authority (NVDA). They questioned the project’s cost-benefit analysis, it’s hydrologic and seismicity- related assumptions and felt that it was iniquitous and did not give fair compensation to the displaced. The World Bank was forced to do an independent review (also known as the Morse Commission) of the project in 1991. The Commission gave an adverse report following which the Government of India pulled out of the loan agreement with the World Bank. The Supreme Court’s decision of 2000 on raising the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam gave a stimulus to the construction of the dam in ‘national interest’. The drought-prone areas of Gujarat like Kutch and Saurashtra are yet to get water from the project.

Alternative solutions

There are various cheap and effective solutions available as an alternate to dams. These alternative models, which include reviving traditional systems of water harvesting in various parts of Rajasthan and other parts of India, has changed the economy of farmers and also addressed drinking water problems in the region. There is enough scope for applying rainwater harvesting models and building small check dams for storing water to bring a significant amount of in the lives of millions.

References 

http://www.countercurrents.org/en-jensen220904.htm 

http://www.narmada.org/gcg/gcg.html 

  • In December 2015, more than forty years after it was conceived, the Government was set to launch India’s ambitious 30-link river interlinking project linking 37 rivers. The linking of the ‘surplus’ river Ken through a 231.45-km canal with the ‘deficient’ river Betwa flowing through the sta...
    Amita Bhaduriposted 4 years 8 months agoread more
  • Although the state of Uttarakhand is rich in water and forest resources, its watersheds are under threat of wasting and erosion due to decreased forest cover, faulty agricultural practices, hydrologic imbalances and natural calamities. The growing population is further increasing the pressure on nat...
    aarti kelkar kh...posted 4 years 9 months agoread more
  • Paraswani village in Balodabazar district, Chhattisgarh contains vast reserves of limestone, a sedimentary rock that is a primary ingredient in the cement manufacturing process. Since 1992, Ultratech Cement Ltd. (UTCL) followed by four other similar companies, have begun excavating this rock within ...
    makarandpurohitposted 4 years 9 months agoread more
  • The epic voyage--Nadisutra--along the Ganga may have been the high point of Emmanuel Theophilus’s recent work, but there have been many more peaks and valleys for this fervent mountaineer cum ecologist. Theo lives in a remote village near Munsiyari in Uttarakhand. Once a full-time employee of the ...
    Amita Bhaduriposted 4 years 9 months agoread more
  • A water ATM, as the name implies, is a sort of a water vending machine similar to bank ATMs except that in a water ATM, money goes in to the machine in return for water. These machines, which run on a cash as well as a prepaid card or smart card system are built, owned and operated by private c...
    makarandpurohitposted 4 years 9 months agoread more
  • Three villages displaced by Tehri dam finally recognised as revenue villagesFollowing a four decade struggle by those displaced by the Tehri dam, the Uttarakhand Government has finally recognised three villages as revenue villages. The three villages have been renamed as Tehri Bhagirathi Nagar, Ghon...
    Swati Bansalposted 4 years 10 months agoread more
  • Industries can extract groundwater only after obtaining a NOC: CGWAPer the revised guidelines of the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA), all industries extracting groundwater will need to obtain a no-objection certificate (NOC) to draw groundwater. If enforced, the new guidelines will impact wate...
    Swati Bansalposted 4 years 10 months agoread more
  • MoEFCC can approve hydel projects in Uttarakhand, except in Alaknanda-Bhagirathi river basins: SCMuch to the relief of Uttarakhand Government, the Supreme Court has allowed the Environment Ministry to give a green nod to hydropower projects in the State. However, the ban on hydel projects in the Ala...
    Swati Bansalposted 4 years 11 months agoread more
  • Course Objectives:At the completion of the training programme, the participants would be able toExplain the basic concept of project and project cycleDescribe key aspects of Monitoring and EvaluationDevelop Monitoring and Evaluation frameworksDescribe the principles and concepts in inclusive monitor...
    Sambodhiposted 4 years 12 months agoread more
  • Papi kondalu, a scenic gorge located on the lower stretches of the Godavari, will soon be engulfed within the controversial Polavaram Dam. The river serves as a visitor’s delight as it winds through the hills--the same hills that are home to primitive tribal groups such as the Kondareddys. Or...
    Amita Bhaduriposted 5 years 1 week agoread more
  • Godavari, Krishna rivers interlinkedOn September 9, 2015, now a historic date for Andhra Pradesh, the Godavari water reached the Polavaram canal in the Krishna Delta region after flowing for 124 km. The Godavari water was released through the Tatipudi Lift Irrigation Project and will meet the Krishn...
    Swati Bansalposted 5 years 2 weeks agoread more
  • About the conferenceThe deliberations for the Roundtable have been designed to enumerate, appraise and understand the challenges of engaging with the issues of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH). The deliberations shall focus upon catalysing innovations for successful and sustainable impacts of WA...
    Sambodhiposted 5 years 1 month agoread more
  • Hydropower development has been given topmost priority in the resource rich state of Himachal Pradesh. It has been hailed as a solution to develop the region and also provide an answer to the unending electricity needs of industry and agriculture. Many of these projects have been blamed as caus...
    aarti kelkar kh...posted 5 years 2 months agoread more
  • Krishna-Marathwada irrigation project worth Rs 4,845 crore gets Govt nodThe Environment Ministry has sanctioned funds of Rs 4,845 crore to the Krishna-Marathwada irrigation project that aims to irrigate nearly one lakh hectares of land in the Marathwada region. The project envisages two li...
    Swati Bansalposted 5 years 3 months agoread more
  • Committee warns against raising Sardar Sarovar Dam height In its report 'Drowning a valley: Destroying a civilization', the six-member Central Fact Finding Committee has warned that raising the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam on the Narmada river in Gujarat will be disastrous. Also, the heigh...
    Swati Bansalposted 5 years 3 months agoread more
  • All the world’s a stage and all men and women players in it, said Shakespeare. Kathputli Colony in Delhi is living testimony to this. ‘Kath’ means wood and ‘putli’ is the Hindi word for a doll or puppet. What began as a temporary pitching of makeshifts tents in the early 1940’s by street...
    sabitakaushalposted 5 years 3 months agoread more
  • Centre gives nod to 170 eco- sensitive zones in the country The Environment Ministry has cleared 170 eco-sensitive zones in the country and by the end of the year plans to wrap up the entire business of such zones. With the completion of the mandatory 60-day period of public comments that...
    Swati Bansalposted 5 years 4 months agoread more
  • Green nod to Arunachal's Dibang project The Environment Ministry has given green clearance to the 2,880 MW Dibang project in Lower Dibang Valley of Arunachal Pradesh. The clearance is valid for 10 years from the date of commissioning and 5 years post this, the Ministry has ordered an impa...
    Swati Bansalposted 5 years 4 months agoread more
  • Over 500 people succumb to killer heat wave Several parts of the country are reeling under ever rising temperatures that have claimed over 500 lives. Most deaths have occurred in southern parts of India, primarily from heatstroke and extreme dehydration. The capital has recorded a temperature of 43...
    Swati Bansalposted 5 years 4 months agoread more
  • Kanhar, 1976; Polavaram 1941. These are just two of the several dam projects that were proposed decades ago but are yet to see the light of day. Capitalist media is quick to denounce 'anti-development' activists as being the roadblocks on the glorious path of progress but there is more to it. U...
    chicuposted 5 years 4 months agoread more

Pages

Policy matters this week

Hotels, industries, ashrams polluting the Ganga to be sealed

Topics

Sub-Categories

Regions

The passing of Latha Anantha, a true crusader and champion for rivers, leaves a void in the water sector. The Forum for Policy Dialogue on Water Conflicts in India pays tribute to her.

Latha, well known environmental activist and researcher from Kerala, is no more with us physically. Though many of us knew that she was battling with cancer for the last 3-4 years, closely following her ups and downs and also knowing that over the last two weeks or so her health was steadily deteriorating, the question still comes up time and again, why was she taken away from us so early? She was just 51. She left us in the wee hours of Thursday, 16th November.

Topics

Sub-Categories

Regions

The theme for the Conclave this year is “Water Use Efficiency: An Imperative for India” to highlight the imperative of water use efficiency in the industry, agriculture and urban contexts

November 28, 2017 10:00AM
November 27, 2017 12:00PM

Topics

Sub-Categories

Regions

A video explains how increasing man-animal conflicts can be resolved in a harmonious way.

Elephants enjoy a special place in India. They play a significant role not only in the Indian ecological system but also in its cultural and religious landscape. 

Topics

Sub-Categories

Regions

News this week

Niti Aayog proposes 300-metre high dam in Arunachal Pradesh

Topics

Sub-Categories

Regions

Veteran journalist P. Sainath says we are living in a time of inequality--of wealth, water and income--driven by policies. Shouldn’t we be more angry about this?

In India, there has been a stunning growth of inequality in the last 25 years and a spectacular growth of inequality in the last 15 years. It is not just a question of wealth and income; inequality is visible in every sector. It is visible in water whether (it is) water for irrigation or drinking water. Transfers of water from poor to rich, from agriculture to industry, from village to city are going on.

Attachments

Topics

Sub-Categories

Regions

Policy matters this week

Committee formed for the management of water resources in the Northeast

Topics

Sub-Categories

Regions

Here's a video that tells the story of the struggle of the people displaced by the Hirakud dam and their right over the land.

On January 13, 1957, the then Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru inaugurated the Hirakud dam, calling it the temple of modern India. It has submerged more than 360 villages (1,23,000 acres of land) and displaced 26,561 families. Out of these displaced families, around 11,000 families and their successors have been residing in the periphery of the Hirakud reservoir in 34 unsurveyed villages.

Topics

Sub-Categories

Regions

News this week

Non-biodegradable waste clogs Yamuna river after festival immersions

Topics

Sub-Categories

Regions

Increase in human activities in the Western Ghats is threatening the biodiversity. A video tells us why investing in nature is the need of the hour.

The Western Ghats is one of the eight hotspots of biological diversity in the world and is spread across six states—Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The forests in the Western Ghats are the water towers of peninsular India. As many as 58 major rivers originate here, including the sacred Godavari, the Cauvery and the Krishna. 

Topics

Sub-Categories

Regions

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Development and Displacement