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Drastic Erosion of Socio-Economic Condition of People in Resettlement Sites

A survey of 429 families displaced from Indira Sagar Pariyojana (ISP), and now living in 5 government resettled sites (Jhingadarh, Bhangarda, Chikli, Ambakhal and Jhagariya) and 6 privately resettled sites (Barud, Naya Siwar, Siwar-Bhagwanpura Road, Hantiya, Dinkarpura and Nagarbeda), was carried out in October-November 2006 by an independent team of 5 persons. The team members were -- Kaivalya Desai (Masters student, Delhi University), Upmanyu Trivedi (Masters student, Delhi University), Vineet Jain (Undergraduate student, Delhi University), P. Srikant (Doctoral student, ISEC, Bangalore), and Rahul Pandey (Independent researcher and former professor, IIT Bombay and IIM Lucknow). The survey revealed drastic erosion in socio-economic condition of displaced families.

The key findings of the survey are as follows:

* Majority of displaced families had to resettle privately as the government did not offer adequate number and quality of resettlement sites. However, those resettled privately have poor infrastructure and face hostility from neighbouring host communities.
* Most cash received as compensation and grant was spent in contingencies like purchasing house plot, building new house, paying off debt, and meeting running expense. No family could make new investment in any significant productive asset or resource.
* Most farmer families have lost major share of agricultural land to submergence. As the compensation rate for land was half to one-third of market rate, no family has been able to rebuild the lost land. All families from Bhangarda, 80% from Ambakhal, 70% from Jhingadarh and Jhagariya, more than 50% from Barud, Naya-Siwar and Nagarbeda, and 34% from Chikli have lost more than half of their farmland ownership after displacement.
* Following families reported decline in income by more than half: All families from Bhangarda, Naya-Siwar, Barud and Nagarbeda, and more than 50% families from Jhingadarh, Ambakhal, Jhagariya, Siwar-Bhagwanpura Road and Hantiya.
* Population of landless labourers has increased by 67% among all surveyed sites as many small farmers have become landless.
* As cumulative farmland in every village has declined, farm labour work opportunities for landless labourers have fallen sharply, from 15-25 days a month in original villages to 2-9 days a month in resettled sites. All labourer families surveyed reported more than 50% fall in annual income. No other employment opportunities exist as most sites are not located in proximity to any pre-existing market or urban habitation. Seasonal labour migrations have increased.
* No resettled site has any grazing land or proximate forests. Hence cattle population has depleted by 80% in Bhangarda and Barud, by 60% in Ambakhal, and by 30-50% in other sites as it is now economically burdensome for families to maintain cattle. Useful trees owned by families have reduced by 65-100% in various sites. With drastic decline in cattle and trees, access of people to livelihood inputs like dung and firewood has gone down.
* All privately resettled sites and some government sites have no civic amenities like water supply/wells, roads, electricity and drainage. Other government sites have public wells and semi-pucca roads but no drainage. With no roads, drainage and clean water, daily life of villagers in private sites becomes a health hazard especially in rainy season.
* Most sites are not located close to middle/high schools and no private site has primary school. As a result several children, especially girls, have dropped out of school. 10-50% families in various sites reported drop out of previously school-going children.
* With unhygienic living conditions, economic hardship and uncertain future, cases of physical illness (like stomach problem, fever and malaria) and psychological depression have increased. About 90% families from Ambakhal and 15-35% families from other sites complained of such problems. No site has primary health facility.
* The compensation estimation and disbursal process was ridden with rampant corruption and misinformation. Most people got less than their due. This, together with the fact that different families of a house jointly owned many assets for which cash compensation was given, has contributed to mistrust and break-down among family and community relationships.

Poor design and implementation of Rehabilitation & Resettlement (R&R) is the main reason behind all this devastation. In retrospect, everyone feels that cash compensation was highly insufficient to rebuild livelihood and they must have got land for land.

(Rahul Pandey)

C-419, Indian Institute of Science,

Bangalore- 560 012

Tel- 080-23606857