During last few years, the state
police has indiscriminately thrashed protestors and, even, opened fire at people
agitating against POSCO Steel plant Project area near Paradip in Jagatsinghpur
The Niyamgiri episode of people’s
movement against mining still stands as a testimony to the Naveen Patnaik
government’s non-inclusive approach in pursuing development, which has only
helped hostility to grow in most areas of industrial, mining and large
The government also doesn’t give
adequate importance to the issue of livelihood displacement while listing families displaced
or affected by industrial or other projects.
The ORRP 2006 says, only a family
ordinarily residing in the project area prior to the date of publication of
notification under the provisions of the relevant Act and on account of
acquisition of his/her homestead land either displaced or required to be
displaced from such area is to be counted as a “displaced family.”
But the affected communities contest
this definition placing the livelihood sources as important as house and
Speaking about the issues of
displacement and livelihood in connection to the POSCO steel project, the
largest foreign direct investment (FDI) project planned on the coast near
Jatadhar river mouth in Jagatsinghpur district, leader of the people’s movement
against the project Abhay Sahu says, “Taking the economic group into
consideration, the fishermen community and peasantry both will be deprived of
their natural livelihood. So, we consider the displacement of livelihood is the
real displacement of a family. The family may be there; his house and homestead
may not go in the project area; but if his livelihood is displaced; his
dependency on the forest land is displaced; his dependency on the sea, Jatadhar
River is displaced. That is the real displacement for which we have been
fighting tooth and nail relentlessly against the POSCO steel plant.”
If snatching out the source of
livelihood is to be termed as displacement, Naveen’s first term as the Chief
Minister of Odisha is to be termed as the phase of large scale displacement.
Thousands of skilled and unskilled workers lost their job during this period
with closure of state run public sector units (PSUs) like Konark Television,
Ipitron and many more including state run spinning mills and the Odisha Textile
Mill (OTM), in the name of disinvestment. Supported by DFID – the British Agency
for International Development – this process of closure of PSUs is believed by
many to be a conspiracy to make Odisha industry starved and pave the road for
global players to exploit and loot the State’s huge mineral reserves in the name
Dearth of data
information provided by the industry minister to the house of assembly, 66
out of 92 projects, the Naveen Patnaik
government has signed memoranda of understanding (MoU) for, have started full or partial production.
ironically, a complete database on families displaced and affected by
different industrial and developmental projects is not yet available with the
government. This otherwise speaks about the seriousness Naveen
government has in regard to the issue of displacement.
“Although the department (of Revenue
and Disaster Mitigation) launched an application software named 'Project Punarbas,' in 2009, with the objective to automate the land acquisition and RR
process, develop database, survey methodologies, set up responsive grievance redressal system etc. for the entire state, the project failed during its
implementation stage despite expenditure of 1.40 crore rupees,” says the audit
report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India.
However, on basis of records of 32
test checked industrial projects in 13 districts, the CAG report reveals that
6533 families have been displaced and 35632 families affected during the period
between 1992 and 2013 by industrial projects acquiring 36555.180 acre of land.
Taking all projects - industrial,
mining as well as development projects - together, number of total displaced
families goes up to 23,845, says a report, published during the end of 2014 in
The Hindu newspaper, which also brings to light
that 38% of it or over 9,000 displaced families are yet to be resettled by the
Because of absence of any system for
collection of data about displacement taking place in the state, there have been
instances where data and figures about displaced people and families have been
manipulated by companies and officials.
In case of Bhushan Steel Limited in
Dhenkanal, 1865 families are affected by the industry as per the minutes of
Rehabilitation Advisory Committee (RAC) meeting. But the figure is twisted to
1663 and 1296 in survey report and monthly progress report (MPR) respectively,
the CAG report points out.
The government too plays its part in
the nexus that works to deprive the displaced families of the RR benefits.
Citing the case of Angul based Jindal Steel and Power limited, CAG report
mentions, while the MPR of October 2013 indicated the numbers of PDF and PAF as
261 and 2073, a report submitted to the State Legislature in August 2013 says
that the said numbers are 583 and 5029 respectively.
When non-availability of data
creating scope for such manipulation are the reality, the obvious question is,
which figures were taken into consideration for disbursement of compensations
and other RR benefits under ORRP 2006? But there is no single point where one
can get an answer to this question.
Norms for the
Instead of dealing with the issue of
displacement, which has a bigger role in ensuring an industrialisation friendly
environment, the government has rather seriously attempted to deny RR benefits
to affected families. In an official order issued by the
Commissioner-cum-Secretary, Revenue and Disaster Management Department of Odisha,
it is clarified that families who are normally residing in or near the project
areas for a period of at least 3 years prior to the date of notification may be
considered as ordinarily residing and thus for the purpose of RR benefits as
project displaced families.
The clarified definition of “residing
in or near the project areas for a period of at least 3 years prior to the date
of notification” has deprived many tribal families, residing in villages
affected by the mining project of Utkal Alumina International Ltd. (UAIL) in
Kashipur block of Rayagada district after being displaced by the Indravati
reservoir project, of their rightful benefits.
Though section 7 (iv) of the ORRP
2006 has provision of additional 50% of the normal compensation payable as
ex-gratia to families facing multiple displacement, such families settled in
villages like Durmusi and Suryagarh, near Baphlimali bauxite reserve, have been
forcefully driven out by the local administration even without any compensation
just to serve the interests of UAIL.
This indicates how official orders in
clarification of some specific norms have superseded the very intent and
objective of ORRP 2006 and have made the policy almost dysfunctional. Cases of
multiple displacement are rampant in districts like Sundargarh, Jharsuguda,
The CAG report confirms non-payment
of any additional compensation to families facing multiple displacement, in
violation of ORRP norms, while citing cases of 43 project displaced families (PDFs),
displaced earlier due to Hirakud Dam Project and settled in Lapang area under
Sambalpur district, of Aditya Aluminium Project and 130 PDFs of Jindal Steel and
Power Ltd (JSPL), earlier displaced by Derjang Project in Angul.
Not only in case of multiple
displacement, there has been serious lapses and negligence in cases of first
time displacement for industrial and developmental projects in the state.
As the CAG audit report notes, 798
PDFs displaced during 1992-2013 have not been properly rehabilitated and full
benefits due to them have not been extended because of inadequate institutional
mechanism and absence of proper planning. Even the process of extending RR
benefits to the displaced and affected families has been faulty in many cases.
While project authorities in many
cases have made payment at pre-revised rate despite revisions in the amount for
rehabilitation assistance on the basis of wholesale price index (WPI), the CAG
also finds gross irregularities in distribution of Record of Rights to the
Though the government has revised the
amount of monthly maintenance allowance (MMA) to 3400 per month, in effect from
1.4.2014, the pre-revised rates are still in effect in many cases. As a fact to
substantiate, MMA fixed for the families displaced by UAIL in Rayagada still
remains to be Rs.1800.00, which again has not been paid since last one and half
years, as said by people of Bagrijhola, a village adjacent to UAIL plant.
The promises of social amenities in
the resettlement colonies are unfulfilled in most cases. Most such colonies do
not have basic health facility, piped water supply, provision of pond, street
light, all-weather roads, school for education, place of worship etc., as the
CAG report takes note of it and classify the resettlement habitats as “deficient
on many counts.”
When original and amended norms of
ORRP 2006 are being violated in most cases, the government has not set any
mechanism for proper monitoring of the process of rehabilitation and
resettlement to minimise public dissent by ensuring that all benefits due to
ADFs and PAFs reach the target.
Even, to the concern of the CAG,
“Review meetings conducted by the RDC and Collectors were also inadequate and no
follow-up action were taken. Grievance redressal mechanism was inadequate as
several petitions were lying unattended by the district authorities as well as
Employment - an
The government has always presented
the possibility of employment generation as the primary motivator for its
Reports based on facts presented in the Assembly say, in 66 projects
that shave commenced production either partially or fully, direct and indirect employment has been created for 100,410
people, including 70,241 within the state with the balance 29,442 hired from
outside the state.”
The figure of 70,241 seems to be an
eyewash attempt because a report published in The Hindu during mid-2014 reveals
that only 19300 persons have been employed during the past decade by all steel
projects the government has signed MoUs for.
When employment provided to members
of displaced families is concerned, the kind and nature of employment provided
in various industries needs serious verification. In many cases, affected people
working with companies are not taken as full-fledged staff members but as
contractual or wage-based workers so that they can be ousted anytime.
As it came to notice during a recent
visit to the villages affected by the UAIL project in Rayagada district, local
people who lost their land for the industry are not getting employment in the
plant or mining site. Even those who have been working since commissioning of
the plant are not yet taken as staff members and are paid a meagre 3000 rupees a
month. Some have also been asked, without any strong reason, not to work.
The CAG also observes in its recent
report that “adequate employment was neither provided by industries nor the
scope of self-employment created in project areas.”
Five industries, who should have
sponsored 2085 members for ITI training, could sponsor only 233 and “employment
or one-time cash compensation in lieu of employment was not provided to 588
families displaced by 10 out of 32 test checked industries,” the report adds.
Interview conducted during CAG audit
in presence of representative of Collector with 597 persons affected under 12
industrial projects in four districts reveals that 53% (315) of people want
permanent employment to be assured with a perennial source of income.
It can be imagined how difficult the
life of a displaced family becomes without any employment because of
non-realisation or delay in realisation of a project. This is one of the major
issues and, also, a cause of resentment among people whose land has been
acquired for the POSCO project. As the project is facing inordinate delay due to
several reasons, land losers are forced to live without an assured source of
income since more than last three years.
Same is the case with people who have
lost their land for the TATA Steel project proposed near Gopalpur in Ganjam
district. The project has been given an SEZ status during this government.
In fact, the volume of unemployed
workforce created by the government is much higher than the number of employment
it has generated through industrialisation.
Because mostly forest and
agricultural land have been acquired for various industrial, mining and
developmental projects, the forest dwellers and farming communities in the
project areas have lost their livelihood sources. And, as employment scope in
agriculture is not limited to the land owners only, unemployment created through
the land grab for industrialisation has been much higher than the official
displacement caused by the projects.
Apart from creating a vast unemployed
workforce in the agricultural sector, Naveen Patnaik government has created an
equally vast unemployed workforce by closing down a number of PSUs during its
first term. Though the government claims to have provided training for
self-employment under a “Social safety Net Programme,” this seems to be an
eyewash attempt by the government to escape controversies and public criticism.
Despite its failure in addressing all the issues
raised and analysed above, the Naveen Patnaik government has always favoured
forceful displacement by limiting the constitutional rights of people to pursue
its industrialisation agenda.
Be it for the TATAs, the POSCO, Vedanta and other
big industrial houses, issues raised by people have not been heeded to at any
level of the governance system. Norms set in Acts like Panchayat (Extension to
Scheduled Areas) Act or PESA and the Scheduled Tribes and
Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006,
commonly known as Forest Rights Act, have not been respected. Rights of
communities over forest and natural resources were taken away to promote
industrial and mining projects against people’s will.
In the game, the poor and ordinary people always
have to lose to make the corporate players gain.
[An edited version of this
piece is published in the report "15 years of Odisha governance," brought out by
Wada Na Todo Abhiyan (WNTA).