the draft Resettlement and Rehabilitation Policy has hit a roadblock for the second time. The group of ministers
(gom) debated the draft policy brought out by the Union ministry of rural development (mord) on July 3, after failing to reach consensus the first time on June 20. The problem areas are compensation and land
The proposed compensation package prepared by mord gives landless labourers the position of equivalent beneficiaries as land owners. The proposal hasn't gone down well with gom. On land acquisition, while industry wants the government to acquire land directly for development projects, mord proposals in the draft aim at nullifying the government's role completely in land acquisition.
The second meeting was kept private and media kept at bay."Why the secrecy? Why shouldn't rehabilitation be discussed with people?" asks Himanshu Thakkar of South Asia Network on Dams Rivers and People. Agrees social activist Medha Patkar. "There is no transparency in the process and no room for negotiation. The national policy should focus on development planning with land acquisition being just a part of it but at the moment it seems like the focus is mainly on acquiring land," she said.
The talk of "single window clearance to projects" with respect to the finance minister P Chidambaram's stand in the first meeting is being seen as 'pro-industry'. "It appears as if the finance ministry is treating mord as a peripheral ministry. They seem to be just pushing their projects ahead (at the behest of the industry), rather than consulting with mord," says Patkar. Souparno Lahiri of India Forum says displacement is an issue. "Why have projects in high-density areas?" he asks.
The draft resettlement and rehabilitation policy has always been under scanner (see 'Centre's new draft rehabilitation policy half-baked', Down to Earth, November 15, 2006).
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.
Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.