A Rehabilitation Policy for the development of the nation as well as the displaced Adivasi

A Rehabilitation Policy - that will lead to the development of the nation as well as the displaced Adivasi –
Stan Swamy

The ‘Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy’ of Jharkhand govt is unacceptable.
It is too little, too late. A just and meaningful policy should contain the following elements.

  1. Adivasi People should no more be displaced. 30% of them have already been displaced and 41% of their land has already been alienated from them. Only 25% of them have been resettled. The remaining 75% have been neatly forgotten. The following policy should first be applied to those already displaced (15 lakhs in Jharkhand alone). As for other communities, displacement should be avoided if at all possible, and if it cannot be, it must be as minimal as possible. Past experience shows that the govt and the project holder very easily decide on displacement without regard for the dispossession and impoverishment of the to-be-displaced. Again, much more land is forcibly acquired than what is strictly necessary for the realisation of the project.
  2. Prior informed consent of the to-be-displaced must be obtained before displacing them. The Gram Sabha should be the medium between people and the company. The prevalent practice as of now is taking the affected people for granted and officially notifying them of the fact of acquisition. This practice is unjust and unethical.

  3. Mining of whatever minerals must be done by people's cooperatives in Scheduled Areas. This is in keeping with the Supreme Court's verdict [Samata Judgment,1996] which prohibits even the govt from mining in Scheduled Areas.

    Private mining companies have no right to enter Scheduled Areas. Rather, the govt should help in the formation of People's Cooperatives, register them as legal entities, provide the technical expertise and arrange initial capital from a nationalised bank.

  4. The people are not just stake-holders but owners of whatever minerals are found in their lands. They will excavate and they will sell to the govt or the private company as an equal partner. This proposition may be difficult to digest in our capitalist society where the govt assumes to itself the right of 'eminent domain'. But the validity of this claim has been established by some Indigenous Peoples in some parts of the world.

  5. The consent of the Gram Sabha should be obtained before making the acquisition of land in the Scheduled Areas for development projects and before re-settling of rehabilitating persons affected by such projects in the Scheduled Areas. This is as per the 'The Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas)Act,1996' [4.i]. The sad fact is that although this Law has been in existence for well over 8 years, the govt behaves as if no such law even exists.

  6. The land that is taken with people’s consent should not be sold or transferred to the company but only given on lease. During the duration of mining, the company should pay the land owner a monthly rent of at least Rs. 1000 per acre. After the mining is over, the company should restore the land back to the land owner in a restored condition so that agricultural cultivation can be resumed.

    With non –mining companies acquiring land on a permanent basis, land for land must be a necessary condition because land is the only sustaining source.

  7. Employment to every adult (male & female) member of the family is a must.
    Lack of education / technical skills cannot be an excuse. The employing company has the obligation to equip these young men & women by setting up technical training centres so that it will have trained men and women in its work force. Of course local residents should enjoy priority over outsiders.

  8. The value of the land that is leased or acquired should be estimated by the value of the mineral deposit in the case of mining, and by the end use of the land for other projects like dams, factories, highways etc.

  9. Togetherness of Adivasi Communities in the resettlement process is absolutely necessary because that is the only way for them to preserve their culture and social traditions.

  10. Complete rehabilitation should be completed at least two years before displacing people . This is necessary because people need time to adjust to the new set up.

  11. In this whole process, establishing correct facts such as land ownership, number of families, members in each family, the functioning of the Gram Sabha, amount & value of the mineral deposits etc. is of vital importance. This task cannot be left to the govt or the company. Rather it must be done by an independent, academic agency situated in the district or state.

  12. In those situations where mines & factories already exist, A minimum of 20% of the annual net profit made by the mining company should be set aside towards the development of the villages where the mine or industry is located. [Samata judgment, 1996, para 112-113]. The people from whose land the mineral wealth is excavated should be the first beneficiaries in the monetary value that is generated. The govt which claims royalty and the capitalist miner with his claim for profit are only the second and the third partners.

  13. A Rehabilitation Policy containing the above elements will alone be just and fair to the Adivasi People. This alone will lead to their development along with the nation’s development. Besides, such a policy should be enacted into an Act of the Parliament and the State Assembly. Then only it will have a binding power on the government and the company.

To conclude, National Development should not take place at the expense of some communities of people, such as Adivasis, whose only source of livelihood is their land.

And such a Policy / Act alone will be acceptable to the Adivasi Community.

Independence Day 2008