1. The Study and Campaign
2. Public Lecture Series
3.Tsunami and After
4.Northeast India Segment 5. Nepal Segment 6. Pakistan and Bangladesh Segments
7. Myanmar Segment
8. ‘Voices’ Project
work combines three methods – (a) random survey of some selected IDP
campsites and settlements and analysis on the basis of a focused
questionnaire (b) focus group discussions with IDPs living in camps and (c)
select case studies and presentations of voices from those selected areas or
population groups. A total of 528 respondents from four different countries
were interviewed. Other than
that a number of focus group discussions were held and over thirty selected
cases were studied in depth. There
were country reports from Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh and case reports
from Gujarat, Kashmir, Orissa and Bodoland in India.
3.Tsunami and After
4.Northeast India Segment
5. Nepal Segment
6. Pakistan and Bangladesh Segments
7. Myanmar Segment
8. ‘Voices’ Project
work combines three methods – (a) random survey of some selected IDP
campsites and settlements and analysis on the basis of a focused
questionnaire (b) focus group discussions with IDPs living in camps and (c)
select case studies and presentations of voices from those selected areas or
population groups. A total of 528 respondents from four different countries
were interviewed. Other than
that a number of focus group discussions were held and over thirty selected
cases were studied in depth. There
were country reports from Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh and case reports
from Gujarat, Kashmir, Orissa and Bodoland in India.
(For report on research, translation, and other activities under this segment, please visit archives.)
“The Internally Displaced Persons: Current Status” Kathmandu, 6 September 2006
The first issue of the OCHA Nepal Thematic Report deals with the current status of the internally displaced persons in Nepal, which is one of the key issues for a lasting peace between the interim government of Nepal and the CPN-Maoists. The report evaluates the impact of the recent political changes on the displacement dynamic in Nepal highlighting the unresolved issues affecting IDPs as well as challenges in planning IDP return support programmes.
Monitoring internal displacement in Nepal has never been an easy task due to the unclear demarcation between conflict-related displacement and seasonal and economic migration from the hill districts as well as the wide range and diversity of those displaced.
The current status of IDPs in Nepal is further overshadowed by the general confusion and stigmatization of IDPs exacerbated by the lack of a clear national policy on IDPs. The proposed National Policy on Internally Displaced Persons is currently on hold pending an implementation plan and possible modifications. Moreover, the near-absence of government presence outside the district headquarters as well as the unstable political situation constitute potential triggers for new displacement.
The ongoing return process is on the increase but remains contested by the UN, which is still questioning the existence of conditions for a safe return of IDPs. However, the right to return is not consistently respected by the CPN-Maoists, who continue to negatively influence opportunities for sustainable returns through their control of IDPs’ lands. Food insecurity and lack of livelihood in general is both a reason to leave and an obstacle to return.
The UN and I/NGOs have been active in their response and coordination of protection and assistance to IDPs in Nepal. The international agencies are working together on plan as well as safe environment for returns to take place.
OCHA has launched the Nepal Information Platform, where all information available in relation to internal displacement in Nepal, is compiled. The site can be accessed at www.un.org.np
OCHA Nepal Thematic report available at
The Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group (MCRG) in collaboration with the Naga Peoples’ Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR) organised a three-day workshop on the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in India’s Northeast at Hotel Japfu in Kohima, Nagaland during August 24-26, 2006. Academics, human rights activists and media-persons from different parts of India’s East and Northeast participated in this workshop.
In the inaugural session on 24 August, Samir Kumar Das, Research Coordinator, MCRG made some introductory comments indicating the justification of organising such a workshop in Kohima. He also referred to the previous work done by the MCRG in this context. Nepuni, General Secretary, NPMHR, welcomed all the participants. Dr. Monirul Hussain, Professor, Department of Political Science, Gauhati University presented a status report on the IDP Situation in Northeast India and this report was subsequently discussed in the workshop. In fact, Dr. Hussain’s presentation acted as the keynote address to the workshop. Apart from a concept note and Monirul Hussain’s keynote address, copies of an article entitled “Nobody’s People in No-man’s Land” by Subir Bhaumik [in Paula Banerjee, Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury and Samir Kumar Das (eds.), Internal Displacement in South Asia, (Sage: 2005)] and another one entitled “Population Displacement in India: A Critical Review” by Samir Kumar Das and Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury (published in Refugee Watch) were circulated among the participants as reference points for discussion in the workshop. Walter Fernandes, Director, North Eastern Social Research Centre, chaired this session. Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury, Secretary, MCRG, proposed a formal vote of thanks at the end of the session.
North East India has been a very distinct civilisational, geographical, socio-economic, cultural and political entity in India. Of the 635 tribal groups listed by Anthropological Survey of India, 213 were found to be living in the Northeast India. This region is geographically isolated and connected with the rest of India through a narrow corridor. Besides, the region is also economically underdeveloped. The migrations of different groups at different periods of history from the neighbouring areas have made the society in Assam rich and diverse in terms of race, religion, language and culture. Even the society in the hills of North East also reflects high degree of diversity though each community livingtherein has its distinct characteristics. However, with its annexation into the British colonial India, Assam was exposed to a very high degree of in-migration as an inseparable part of the colonial transformation of society, polity and economy. Obviously, .a large number of these migrants, were, in-fact the displaced people. Whether the tribal from the Jharkhand region who migrated to Assam’s tea plantations, or the or the uprooted peasants of East Bengal who migrated to Assam in large number in search of land and livelihood, all of them were in fact the displaced people induced by the political economy of colonial India. Briefly speaking, Assam remained the unofficial host to large number of displaced people throughout the colonial period. End of the British colonialism also forced Assam to become a host of a large number of East Pakistan refugees. Unlike, Panjab and Bengal the outflow of refugees from the North East was virtually insignificant.
One can find all the three kinds of IDPs in the North East India i.e.,
1. Conflict induced IDPs
2. Development induced IDPs and
3. Natural disaster/ environment induced IDPs ( many preferred to call them Environmental Refugees).
Data on IDP is very scanty. Most difficult is to find data on natural disaster/ environment induced displacement of population. Next in order of difficulty is to gather data on development-induced displacement. North East has experienced a massive development induced displacement of population during the postcolonial period. Compared to these two categories, it is relatively easier to collect data on conflict-induced displacement of population. It is mainly because the media normally does not miss to report conflict because it is an important political event. Our media is largely obsessed with the political news and largely ignore the development and environment issues that displace people. Hence, in the process, we get some information about the conflict-induced displacement but not much on development and environment induced displacement of population in North East India. Besides, if not all, a significant number of media personnel accept the events of human displacement caused by environmental degradation as “natural” events. Similar is the case with the displacement caused by development projects. Here too population displacement becomes natural!
Ethnic conflicts became endemic in postcolonial North East India. Here, ethnic conflict includes the conflict between the state and ethnic groups/ insurgent groups, inter ethnic and intra ethnic conflicts. One particular situation of ethnic conflict may reflect one, two or all these three kinds of conflicts simultaneously.
Among the North Eastern states, internal displacement has been quite high in Assam. Conflict has been the main cause of major displacement of population in Assam. Although it is very difficult to give an exact data of IDPs caused by conflict in this region, we can give some estimates of government and some other agencies here. Tens of thousands of Bengalis, Hindus and Muslims, were displaced all over Assam in violence unleashed during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, particularly during six years of anti foreigner’s agitation led by students and the dominant Asamiyas. During the worst phase of violence in July-September 1960, almost 50,000 Bengalis, mostly Hindus crossed over to West Bengal seeking shelter there. Again, in 1972-73, 14000 Bengalis fled to West Bengal and elsewhere after the breakout of riots over language issue. However, the real figure of displacement is far more than mentioned here because government account includes only those people who took refuge in the camps of West Bengal. Thousands died in the riots during the agitation between 1979 and 1985 - almost 2,000 in the village of Nellie alone.
The inter-ethnic clashes in the Bodo heartland of Kokrajhar and Bongaigaon has displaced a large number of people. At one stage, the number of IDPs reached more than 3 lakhs. It should also be mentioned here that the Bodo-Muslim ethnic violence that occurred in October 1993 has displaced about 3568 families consisting of 18000 persons. Again, a series of major incidents took place throughout the district in May 1996 when a section of Bodos attacked ethnic Santhals. This conflict has resulted in the displacement of a huge population. Almost 42,214 families consisting of about 2, 62682 persons were displaced by this conflict “at the peak of the Bodo Armed Movement, Assam accounted for nearly more than half of India’s population of Internally Displaced Persons”.
These victims were sheltered in 78-relief camps around Kokrajhar and its adjoining areas. After staying as inmates in the camps many of them return to their villages in 1997 with a small amount of returnees grant provided by government of India. However, in 1998 again conflict started between the two groups resulting in the displacement of 48,556 families consisting of 3,14,342 villagers. Till April 2005, in Kokrajhar 1, 26,263 inmates were living in 38 state sponsored relief camps in the district.
Some of these conflict-induced IDPs are living in the relief camps for more than a decade now. The government is providing only rice to the inmates of some of the camps for 10 days a month. Even that supply too was erratic. Sometimes, the IDPs do not get their rations for months together. Assam government records indicates only 33,362 displaced people were left in the camps Kokrajhar district and 74,123 were left in the camps in Gossaigaon district.
In the Kokrajhar sub division number of inmates in the relief camps has decreased from 41,999 to 28,961 on August 2006. Little more than one-third are children and two thirds are adults. However, we could not verify the number of IDPs as given by the district administration. Still the number of IDPs is quite large despite settlement of the Bodo issue. The leadership of the Bodoland movement now leading the Bodoland Autonomous Council as well as a part of the present Congress led coalition government of Assam. It seems they have given utmost priority to the rehabilitation of the ex-insurgents. And resettlement and rehabilitation of IDP is still a low priority issue in the political agenda of the state government as well as the Bodoland Autonomous Council.
Although the government reports are claiming decrease in the number of the inmates of these camps but it is also found that these displaced are forced to leave the camps. Many tribal leaders allege that the administration was stopping rations to force these people out of the camps.
The Muslims of Bengali origin chased out by the Bodo rebels in 1994 are living in pathetic conditions in some places of Assam. Near Bijni on the National Highway, nearly 8,000 such Muslims live in huts on both sides of the National Highway 37.
The life of the IDPs living in the camps in Assam has been very difficult. Most of them do not get adequate food, nutrition and proper medical care. Children of these camps are deprived of formal education and health care services. Though, some receive food aid, but it often arrives sporadically and insufficient in quantity and nutrition. Thus these losing their possessions like land, home and livelihood live in a dehumanised condition.
According to the Home Minister of Meghalaya, approximately 350 Pnar people having close affinity with the Jaintia community of Meghalaya have fled the North Cachar Hills district following the Dimasa- Hmar conflicts in 2003. This has not only spread terror in and around the Cachar district but also resulted in thousands of Dimasas and Hmars being displaced from their gutted down villages, to take shelter in about 25 relief centres.
Again, 4,000 Khasis and Pnars fled from Assam to Meghalaya after getting threat from Karbi militants in November 2003. The displaced were sheltered in camps. However, after staying for a period of two months in the camps the displacees return back.
However, in late 2005, the Karbi Anglong district witnessed one of the worst and longest spells of ethnic violence of Assam. Such violence continued unabated for over one month. The two militant outfits of this district – United People’s Democratic Solidarity (UPDS) and Dima Halam Daoga (DHD) fought with each other resulting in mass killing and violence in the district. The UPDS is the dominant Karbi militant group, while the DHD claims to represent the Dimasa tribe’s aspiration for a separate homeland. This conflict has also affected the Bodos living in the district. Not to speak about the Karbi and Dimasa villages, but the villages having the majority of other groups had to flee their places. At first, the conflict was concentrated mainly in Diphu sub-division, but later it spreads to Hamren sub-division also. Thousands of families have been rendered homeless with Karbis attacking the Dimasas in some places and the Dimasas retaliating in full measure in other areas The panic stricken people of villages though not directly affected, have also fled their houses to stay in the relief camps. All along the highway, scores of relief camps have sprung up. However, people belonging to other ethnic groups are also taking shelter in the relief camps. Even when violence was abated to some extent, the people did not want to go back to what remains of their homes and hearths. Although, official sources asserted that there is no shortage of relief materials, many relief camps are facing shortage of food, medicine, clothing and kerosene. Another major problem is that the students of the districts are suffering as more than 40 schools have been transformed into relief camps.
According to an estimate the ethnic violence of October 2005 has displaced more than 60,000 tribal people belonging to Karbi and Dimasa tribes. Hence, at the present moment it can be estimated that in Assam only, there are over 200000 conflict-induced IDPs in various relief camps both in the plains and the hills awaiting resettlement and rehabilitation. It must be mentioned here that in many cases a number of displaced remain unnoticed and undocumented in the state.
In November 2003, hundreds of Hindi-speaking people left Assam in the wake of the backlash that followed attacks on the train passengers of northeast India in various places of Bihar. Leaving aside the uncounted numbers of those internally displaced, about 20,000 persons, perhaps more, are believed to have fled the State.
Tension in the border areas also results in the displacement of the people. Very recently, on August 10, 2006; the Bangladesh Rifles attacked two outposts of the Border Security force in Cachar and Karimganj districts killing two women. The BSF also retaliated and the firing between the two border guards continued for a long time. Anticipating further violence, nearly 3000 residents of Harinagar, Kinarkkal and Tukegram villages of Cachar and Karimganj fled their homes in panic. The displaced people have been lodged in the relief camps opened at schools and club buildings at a safe distance from the international border. There are problems in the Indo-Bangladesh border over land in Cachar district, as it is believed that the Bangladeshi national try to cultivate in the land of Harinagar area of this district. This is stated to be the main reason behind such an incident. However, later on Indian government has dismissed the report on land encroachment by the Bangladeshi National in the Indian side. Again on 20 August there were exchanges of fire between India’s BSF and Bangladesh’s BDR in which a Bangladeshi woman died.
People living in the border area, whether an international or inter-state in North East India always suffers from a deep sense of fear because of conflict between inter-state border and intra state border. Like Indo-Bangladesh border, the Assam and Nagaland border and the Assam and Arunachal Pradesh border have very often generate displacement of population. However, such displacements have not received adequate attention from the media.
Anti-Bengali movement has displaced people not only from Assam earlier but also from Tripura and Meghalaya. In Meghalaya there was a large-scale displacement of Bengali population, mainly from Shillong. Since the early 1980s, an estimated 25000-35000 Bengalis have left Meghalaya and settled down in some other states of India, mainly in Assam and West Bengal. According to Meghalaya Census report, in 1981, there were 119571 Bengalis in Meghalaya, constituting 8.13 percent of the state’s population. But in 1991, this stood at 144261, constituting only 5.97 percent of the total population. There has been a steady decline of Bengali population in Shillong over last three decades.
In Tripura, attacks on Bengali has been more widespread. Here, the Bengalis constitute the majority and taken over land on a large scale from the indigenous communities. The violence started between the two communities with the riot of June-July 1980 in which about 1076 Bengalis and 278 tribals were killed. during this riot, 189,919 people, 80 per cent Bengalis and the remaining 20 percent tribal were displaced and took shelter in the 186 camps that were set up for them. After the return of normalcy, it was difficult for the Bengalis to return back to their villages as they were taken over by the tribal. Some of the tribal youths formed Tribal National Volunteers (TNV). Between March 1992 and March 2002, these rebels killed 823 Bengalis and 3312 were kidnapped. About 1/7th of those kidnapped did not return. Thus, after 1980 since the first major ethnic riot in Tripura, more than 100000 Bengalis have been displaced from the state.
The Tripura State Revenue Minister, in a statement in the Legislative Assembly, on 24 September 2003, quoted IDP figures in the state; in what could be the first such attempt by any state government in the region to assess the scale of physical movement of people due to militancy. The minister said, “Between March 1998 to February 2003, 19,468 families have been displaced from their original places”. If each family is estimated to have five members, the total number of people displaced would be around 98,000, roughly amounting to more than three per cent of the state’s total population. This is a very large displacement indeed.
Manipur has witnessed substantial internal displacement and ethnic relocation in the wake of the Naga-Kuki and the Kuki-Paite feuds in the 1990s that led to nearly 1700 deaths and destruction of property worth millions of Rupees. At least 600 villages were burnt down during the Naga- Kuki feud, in which nearly 10000 houses were destroyed. The Nagas killed 898 Kukis during the eight-year-old feud while 312 Nagas were killed by the Kukis. On the other hand, the Paites killed 210 Kukis in clashes and lost 298 persons from their community. Almost 3000 houses in 47 villages were destroyed and 22000 Kukis and Paites were displaced. Again, during the riots between the meites and Pangals, more than 100 were killed in which 196 houses in 9 villages were destroyed.
The regrouping of Mizos by the Indian Army in the wake of Mizo rebellion had displaced a large number of Mizo population. During the first regrouping, 45000 and in the second regrouping 87000 Mizos were regrouped. This had forced the Mizo farmers away from his lands as they were forced to settle in roadside locations guarded by the army.
Mizoram has also witnessed a massive outflow of Burmese refugees in 2003. The Chin refugees who had taken refuge in the state following persecution by the Burmese Junta in the post-1988 democracy uprising were forcibly repatriated to Myanmar during July-August 2003. It is reported that more than 4000 Burmese refugees went back to Myanmar after this violence. More than 50,000 ethnic Chin, Kuki and Naga refugees from Myanmar have been left at the mercy of the state governments and the local populace.
About 30,000 to 40,000 Brus/ also called Reangs fled from Mizoram State of India to Tripura to escape from a campaign of violence and terror against them allegedly by members of the Mizo Zirlai Pawl (Mizo Students Union) and Young Mizo Association (YMA). From 15 October 1997 onwards, Reangs from Tungbagin, Kawnmun, Pheileng, Laxmicheraa, Kwartha, Rangdil, Fileng and Tuipuibari areas of Aizwal district of Mizoram fled to neighbouring states to escape from persecution from the non-state actors. It is alleged that the state too remained as silent spectator.
According to an estimate of Tripura government, 30690 Reangs belonging to 6859 families have fled into Tripura in last 3 years. Later on, at the initiative of the Mizoram government, almost 3000 refugees returned back to Mizoram but a majority has chosen to stay back in the IDP camps of Tripura. During the visit to the relief camps under Kanchanpur sub-division in North Tripura from 2-4 January 2006, Asian Centre for Human Rights found the conditions of over 34,000 displaced Brus in the camps in North Tripura as sub-human. Medical and sanitation facilities are almost non-existent in these camps. The inmates use the water from ponds and streams as a result of which water born disease spread out very easily. More than 5000 children in the camps are deprived of education. Even Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan has not been extended to these camps.
Another survey in these camps reveals the fact that the inmates are also becoming victims of AIDS. A survey at the refugee camps in Kanchanpur Sub-division of North-Tripura district conducted by the state health department has found that at least 6 Bru IDPs staying at these camps have been suffering from AIDS and 12 others are found to be HIV positive. Health department sources further say that a section of poverty stricken refugees were working as sex workers and a section of youth were drug addicts, who are contributing towards the spread of this disease.
Development projects are very often linked with the problem of displacement. The development projects of the North East region have directly affected the poor and powerless tribal both in the hills and plains. Absence of adequate resettlement and rehabilitation policy for the displaced has led to further pauperisation, marginalisation and helplessness among the oustees. The South Asian Solidarity for Rivers and Peoples (SARP) maintained that from the 72 hydel projects proposed in the NE region only the contractors and dealers of cement, iron etc will be benefited, not the common people. It will also help the better off to lead a luxurious life, but at the same time the poor and the backward communities will be deprived of their livelihood. It is also interesting to see that Central Allocation for NE projects has increased substantially in 2005-06 financial year. Eighty new projects were sanctioned in this year for this region. By now it has become clear that mega dams have done more harms than good to the people. But still the central government is proposing new plans having dangerous consequences ignoring the fragile ecology of this region. The common people have become conscious of the fact that such projects are not only going to displace them, but also discrete their timeless bond with the elements of nature. They will be alienated from their own place. The people have now understood that Dams and other mega projects will imperil their sustainable modes of living making their life more difficult. Geological condition of this region is fragile. Instead of making any effort protect the rich flora and fauna, the central government is coming with new proposals for setting up different projects in this region, which will have serious consequences in the long run. It is also interesting to see that are by some the development projects of the neighbouring states have also generated IDPs in this region. e.g, the Kaptai Dam constructed on the river Karnaphuli across the international border in the Chittagong Hill Tracts has displaced a large number of Chakmas and Hajongs of the CHT. A large number of them settled down in Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh creating refugee problem. The indigeneous communities of Arunachal apprehend that the 65,000 strong Chakma-Hajong refugees could in future emerge as a dominant political force. Such an eventuality would seal any prospects of their deportation. They are also increasingly worried about the alleged gradual transfer of their land to the refugees. Besides, the refugees are also accused of encroaching on the reserved forestland.
Among the northeastern states, development induced IDPs are more visible in Assam. The oil sector in Assam also contributed towards the problem of displacement. New oil townships are established in various places of upper and lower Assam displacing the inhabitants of those areas. Two paper Mills of Assam at Jagiroad and Cachar have also forced people out of their homes besides destroying the greenery. The Jagiroad paper mill has mostly displaced the people belonging to Tiwa tribes. On the other hand, the Cachar Paper Mill in Barak Valley of Assam has reduced the bamboo forest in the neighbouring area.
Moreover, urban expansion of Guwahati city has displaced the tribal mostly belonging to Karbis and Bodos. Urban expansion is pushing these people out of the city to the periphery. In 1973, when Assam’s capital was shifted from Shillong to Guwahati once again the tribals had to sacrifice. An estimated 1,00000 population were displaced at that time. Again educational institutions like Gauhati University and IIT, Guwahati have also displaced the original inhabitants of the outskirts of the city without proper rehabilitation.
The Pagladiya Dam Project is to be constructed in Nalbari District of Lower Assam. The project is going to irrigate 54,125 hectres of land, protect 40,000 hectres of land from flood and erosion, and generate only 3 MW of electricity. But it would displace almost 1,05000 population most of whom are tribal people. The rehabilitation and resettlement package offered by the government is also not acceptable to the people of the area. Besides many of them do not posses proper ownership documents and therefore will not get any compensation. Hence, the people have started their movement under the banner called “Pagladia Bandh Prakalpar Ksatigrastha Alekar Sangram Samiti” against the implementation of the project. The Central government as well as the Brahmaputra Board, which is the implementing agency of the project, is making all efforts to construct the dam there. But till now the resistance of the people have been quite successful and the authority has failed to do even the ground survey because of the massive resistance of the people.
For the construction of the fourth bridge over the mighty Brahmaputra ‘the Bogibeel Bridge’, already more than 2000 bighas of land have been occupied. According to an estimate, almost 500 families having ownership documents of these lands are not compensated yet. It is to be mentioned that the land has been taken for keeping stones and other materials required for the construction of the bridge.
The 2000 MW Lower Subansiri project to be constructed on the border areas of Assam and Arunachal is already facing lot of opposition from the people as well as from the governments of both the sectors. The project was planned by National Hydro Electric Power Corporation (NHPC), a government run public sector unit and it is very keen to construct the dam as it has obtained environmental clearance for the projects. The proposed height of the dam is 116 meters and it will submerge 3436 hectres of land. At the same time more than 1 Lakh tribals of Arunachal Pradesh will be adversely affected by the dam, out of which about 15000 faces the threat of physical displacement. Besides it will affect the rich bio diversity of the region as 42 hectares of land belonging to Tulley Valley reserve forest will also be submerged, where many rare animal species can be found. The NHPC has already constructed their office on an elephant corridor. As a result of this the elephants have started attacking and destroying the neighbouring villages. The indigenous people of Arunachal are also worried over the threats posed by these projects to their habitats and unique cultural heritage. They further fear that the project would also lead to influx of outsiders creating social problems. Again, the project is going to submerge a vast tract of cultivable land in Arunachal Pradesh impoverishing a large number of indigenous people, while people of other states will get the benefit. However in a significant development, the Ministry of Power has decided to drop plans for the construction of Upper Subansiri dam in Arunachal Pradesh following directions by the Ministry of Environment and Forest on the basis of Indian Board of Wildlife.
The Dumbar Dam of the Gumti Hydel Project in South Tripura district, aims at generating 8.60 MW of power, has displaced a total of 5845 tribal families – between 35,000 to 40,000 people in all. The Gumti Hydel project has mainly displaced the people belonging to Reang community. Although a rehabilitation scheme was taken up for the permanent rehabilitation of the affected families and payment of compensation in terms of acquisition of their land was also undertaken by the state government but it is experienced that most of the affected population dispersed in different localities of Tripura States and they are not in a position to response during the course of rehabilitation activities. Another point to be mentioned here is that the affected Reang communities are mostly jhumias and they are having no land records even of their homestead land. Therefore it is virtually impossible for them to get resettlement without land document.
Likewise, Tipaimukh Multi purpose project is also going to displace over 15000 people. It would mainly attack two tribal communities- Zeliangrong Nagas and the Hmar. It is to be mentioned here that the tribal people have very close relationship with the nature. Moreover, they are attached to the mother earth and have a very well knit web of community life. The construction of such projects disturbs their community life and breaks their relationship with the nature. Besides, in the North East such displacement due to development creates the problem of space further creating ethnic conflicts among them.
Tuli paper Mill of Nagaland has also displaced hundreds of tribal families and affected the rich bio diversity and environment. The Loktak Hydel project in Manipur displaced around 20,000 people as their villages went under water. In Arunachal Pradesh more than 20,000 would be displaced by the Siang project.
It is difficult to estimate the number of IDPs caused by environmental degradation, i.e. flood, riverbank erosion, and landslide etc. However, some reasonable conclusions can be drawn about the enormity of the problem. As a result of continuous environmental degradation; flood and river-bank erosion in the plains, and landslide in the hills have become endemic. This has caused innumerable deaths, destruction and population displacement. The intensity of flood, river-bank erosion and landslide has increased substantially over the years in terms of area and victims. It would be pertinent to point out that the plight of the river-bank erosion induced IDPs are much more severe than that of the victims of flood. The victims of flood at least can go back to their original land once the flood water recedes. However, the river-bank erosion induced ID peasants can not go back to their land. Because, their land has become a part of river’s new/extended bed. It is not only the mighty river Brahmaputra but also the innumerable small and medium sized rivers are also causing havoc in the plains of Assam, i.e. the Brahmaputra Valley and the Barak Valley.
The flood of 2004 alone affected more than ten million people in Assam valley. Excepting two hill districts, all the districts of the plains of Assam experienced devastating flood and riverbank erosion. In an unprecedented flash flood in October of 2004, nearly one thousand people died in Goalpara district of Assam. The government provided some relief to some of these flood-affected people, which was far from adequate. Besides flood, erosion has also created problem for the people of Assam. According an official report, the river Brahmaputra eroded 4, 29, 657 hectares of prime agricultural land. Roughly, 7% of the land in the plains has been eroded between 1951-2000. This has definitely displaced at least 3 million peasants. Today they constitute the most pauperised community in Assam’s plains. In the absence of proper resettlement and rehabilitation policy, most of them have experienced multiple displacements.
The United Nations Guiding Principles on internally displaced Persons has given a framework for taking care and providing adequate protection of the displaced. These 30 principles cover all three phases of internal displacement – the pre-displacement, situation during displacement and the post displacement i.e. the return and resettlement of the displacees. However, it is very unfortunate that these principles are not implemented in India in general and Assam in particular. It seems the state too totally oblivious to the UN guiding principles on IDPs.
Principle 1 says that IDPs shall enjoy in full equality the same rights and freedoms under international and domestic law. But the IDPs living in the camps as well as outside the camps in the North East never enjoy the freedom as enjoyed by other citizens.
Principle 2 states that these principles shall be observed by all authorities, groups and persons irrespective of their legal status and applied without any adverse distinction. So, all the non-state actors and different groups are under obligation to follow/ obey it. However, these are not observed, rather violated very often, in the North East India by different groups.
Principle 4 is very vital particularly to this region because it states that the IDPs should not face discrimination. It should be mentioned here that the displaced who mainly belong to the minority or backward groups often have to face discrimination in various respects in this part of the country.
Principles 6 & 7 have been grossly violated in the Northeast India time and again. This principle states that every human being have the right to be protected against being arbitrarily displaced from his/her home or place of habitual residence. Principle 7 states that it prohibits displacement unless the safety and security of the people to be displaced are ensured by the authority. Implementations of these principles will safeguard the people from development-induced displacement.
Observance of Principles 8 & 9 by the authority in the North East India would have led to the betterment of the condition of the displaced people. Principle 8 states that displacement shall not be carried out in a manner that violates the right to life, dignity, liberty and security of those affected, while principle 9 states that states are under obligation to protect against displacement of indigenous people, minorities, peasants etc., with a special dependency on and attachment to their lands. Contrary to this, in the North East India, most of the time, it is found that the displaced belong to the indigenous, minorities and peasant groups.
Again, principle 11 states that IDPs should be protected against rape, torture and other gender specific violence; slavery of any form and sexual exploitation. But the IDPs living in the camps are very often become the victims of these types of exploitation.
Principle 14 of the UN Guiding Principles mentions about the right of the IDPs to move freely and to choose his or her own residence. But it is difficult for the IDPs of the North East to enjoy these rights in and out of the camp. Besides, it is nearly impossible for them to choose their own place of residence.
Principle 17 emphasizes on the integrity of the family of the displaced and reunion of the members of the family. This is of great significance to the IDPs of the North East where a large number of people are displaced by conflicts and in case of such displacement there is every likelihood of disintegration of the family.
Principles 18-22 of the UN Guiding principle specifically deal with the basic needs of the IDPs, medical care and protection of the property. But the IDPs staying in the camps hardly receive all these facilities. Moreover, it is very difficult for them to get back their property.
Principle 23 speaks about right to education and states that special efforts should be made to ensure full and equal participation of women and girls in educational programmes. But the inmates of camps as well as those living outside hardly enjoy the right to education.
Principle 25 makes the national authority responsible for giving humanitarian assistance to the IDPs. Therefore, it has great significance as the displaced do not have to depend on the provincial authority for getting the assistance.
Principles 28, 29 and 30 specifically deal with the return, resettlement and reintegration of the displaced persons. It allows the internally displaced persons to return voluntarily, in safety and with dignity, to their homes or places of habitual residence or to other place. It also speaks about the full participation of the internally displaced persons in the planning and management of their own resettlement and rehabilitation.
Thus, the Guiding Principles emphasize on the individual’s right to be protected against arbitrary displacement and providing basic facilities to the displaced. Besides it also speaks about minimizing the adverse affects of displacement. Implementation of these principles is the need of the hour to improve the conditions of the displaced, particularly in the North East.
Here it should be noted that in Assam, there is every likelihood that one person may face different types of displacement during his lifetime. e.g. a person displaced by flood or riverbank erosion may cross the boundary experience conflict-induced displacement in his/her new place of residence. Thus, displacement becomes a serialized and multiple experiences. All these have made it very difficult to correctly estimate the number of IDPs in the North East. Usually, it is estimated by simple head counting. However, such method excludes the population who choose to migrate to the urban centres of the state in search of livelihood.
On the next two
days, the workshop had seven separate sessions (parallel sessions) to
discuss different dimensions of the IDP situation in India’s Northeast.
On 25 August, the participants were divided into four different groups at
the very outset. While three different groups discussed the IDP situation
in the Bodo Territorial Council and lower Assam, IDP situation in Karbi
Anglong, and the IDP situation caused by dams, the fourth one dealt with
the IDP situation perceived by the NPMHR in the Naga-inhabited areas of
The formation of UN Guiding Principles on
Internally Displaced Persons is one of the outcomes of the evolution of the
ideal of law of humanitarian assistance, which has been present in
international relations and its normative system for a long time. This
ideal is embodied in a range of international instruments, which pertain to
international human rights law, international humanitarian laws and
international refugee laws. These include the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights 1948, the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights, the 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights, 1966 Convention for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, four
Geneva Convention of 1949 and the two Additional Protocols of 1977, and the
1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol.
Over the years, the increased efforts of creation of institutional measures
to respond to situation of internal displacement viz., Emergency Relief
Coordinator (ERC) in 1991, Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) in 1992,
the Executive Committee on Humanitarian Affairs (ECHA) in 1997 were
culminated into establishment of Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). This trend was consolidated by the adoption of
UN Guiding Principles on IDPs. Since then there are intensive debates to
understand the value of these laws and provisions of humanitarian
assistance vis-a-vis principle of
sovereignty and non-intervention. In other words, does the provision of
humanitarian assistance violate the principles of sovereignty and
non-intervention? This important and interesting debate, which has many
ramifications, has generated substantial literature.
welcomes this initiative taken by the MCRG in collaboration with the NPMHR.
It expresses deep concern at the plight of the IDPs in India’s Northeast
induced by such factors as conflicts, development and environmental
degradation and government policies relating to land, development and
economy etc. It has also felt that the problem should be seen in a larger
perspective and that the Government of India must seriously and sincerely
express their will to resolve it. It was also felt that there is no other
way than to reactivate civil society initiatives to develop the spirit of
understanding, tolerance and accommodation between peoples and organise
people-to-people dialogues. The participants of the dialogue urge on the
state and non-state actors to recognise due importance of the civil society
groups and initiatives. It also calls upon the government to formulate a
new peoples-oriented, rights-based resettlement and rehabilitation law and
policy in order to address the humanitarian crisis generated by
11. Responsibility to Protect: A Series of Consultations in Bangalore, Bhubaneshwar and Kolkata to Understand the Internal Displacement Situation in India
Internal Displacement in India: The Imperatives to Look at the Causes and Linkages and to Find Durable Solutions (13- 15 July 2007, Bangalore)
13 July (Friday)
9.30 AM Welcome address: Samir Kumar Das & E. Deenadayalam
9.40 AM Introduction to the workshop: Ranabir Samaddar
10.15 AM Formation of discussion groups and respective group rapporteurs
11.00 AM Tea break
12.15 PM Theme lecture: Internal Displacement and the Gender Question
Speaker: Paula Banerjee
Chair : Rajesh Kharat
1.30 PM Lunch break
2.30 PM Group Discussion A: “Is the Right to Return a Symbolic Right?” Lessons from Bodoland, Gujarat and
Moderator: Samir Kumar Das
Group Discussion B: The situation of IDPs due to conflict, development, and natural and man-made
Disasters: case studies from South India
Moderator: Ravi Hemadri
4.00 PM Coffee break
4.30 PM Rapporteurs’ brief reports followed by discussions by the participants
7.00 PM Film show
14 July (Saturday)
9.30 AM Theme lecture: Policy review of national provisions of relief, resettlement and rehabilitation and the
role of NHRC
Speakers: P.S. Rao, O.P. Vyas and Mohd. Yusuf
Moderator: Ranabir Samaddar
11 AM Tea break
11.30 AM Group Discussion C: “Administration of Care, How Careful Caregivers Are?: NHRC interventions in
Gujarat, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh”
Group Discussion D: “Human Rights Laws and Regimes of Protection for IDPs”
Moderator: Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury
1 PM Lunch break
2 PM Panel discussion on Kudremukh project
Moderator: E. Deenadayalam
3.30 PM Tea break
4 PM Rapporteurs’ brief reports followed by discussions by the participants
7 PM Film show
15 July (Sunday)
9.30 AM Presentation of the CRG Report on the Voices of the IDPs: Methodology, Findings and Scope for
Improvement/ by Ranabir Samaddar & Paula Banerjee
11 AM Presentation of Certificates
11.30 AM Vote of thanks: Ravi Hemadri & Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury
11.45 AM Tea Break
Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group
organized the first workshop on “Internal Displacement in India –
causes, linkages and responses” in collaboration with The Other Media,
Delhi in Bangalooru from 13-15 July 2007. The main focus of this workshop
was to generate a dialogue and discussion from activists, academics, lawyers
and media persons representing various states from South India on the
Internal displacement situation in India in general and South India in
particular. The resource persons were drawn from Government, Academics and
legal background. The participants included research scholars, academics,
human rights activists, professionals, former government officials and
representatives of some civil society organizations from Karnataka, Goa,
Andhra Pradesh and Kerala.
The following modules will be the basis of the workshop material:
Human Rights laws and instruments of
Protection - international regional, and national regimes of protection,
and the principle of legal responsibility (with special reference to the
Durable Solutions – Relief and Resettlement Policies (with special reference to women)
On 13 July 2007 after a brief round of
self-introduction, initiated by E. Deenadalayam, The Other Media, he
extended a warm welcome to all the participants and expressed that this
dialogue and sharing of experiences will be useful for creating future
network among activists, academics and government machinery. This was
followed by the Ranabir Samaddar’s inaugural lecture on “Internal
displacement situation in India – politico –legal dimension in
On the second day of the workshop IDP Voices Report- a study conducted by CRG was discussed in detail. Ranabir Samaddar and Paula Banerjee initiated the discussion. Paula Banerjee set the backdrop of the report in terms of the three issues that the IDP voices Report focused on the issue of vulnerability, right to return and camps as sites of ‘power”. The issue of vulnerability and right to return is related and it is this complexity that becomes evident in the report details.
The issue of the right to return was discussed in detail in the working group discussion where participants agreed that it becomes a symbolic right when the displaced people are victims of conflict induced displacement. The group moderator Samir Das, CRG raised certain questions like the notion of “home”, raised certain interesting questions in the course of the group discussion whether the right to return should feature in the agenda of engineering solutions. The “right to return” question also assumes displacement as given and it is in this context that the group members agreed that displacement should be treated as a political question. Deenadayalam, The Other Media emphasized that once displacement is treated as a political question one could identify the ethnic, caste based issues that the state paradigms of development ignore when it comes to relief and rehabilitation. This was also pointed in the course of another group discussion on “Administration of Care, How Careful Caregivers Are?: NHRC interventions in Gujarat, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh”. O.P. Vyas, P.S. Rao and Mohd Yusuf discussed the way NHRC had intervened in case of Gujarat post Godhra Riots. They also highlighted the various NHRC interventions.
O.P. Vyas pointed out that the Commission had issued several instructions in the wake of post Godhra riots of 2002 being monitored by the Special Rapporteur, NHRC. The Commission has expressed its concern to the fact that even four years after the tragic events, more than 4,500 families remain displaced from their normal locations and put in temporary/semi permanent structures erected by the NGOs, community organizations, etc. Even more disturbing was the fact that around 500 families live in camp like locations in tents, exposed to the elements. The Commission therefore emphasized upon the focal points of Administration of Care, How Careful Caregivers Are? The Commission had also intervened and monitored the criminal cases of this period related with Godhra incidents.
The Commission also intervened effectively in dealing with the issue of Chakma Refugees in Tripura. The Problem started due to the Panchari–Khagrachari– Matiranga Kussakar massacre that took place between 1st May to June, 1986 and about 42,000 refugees came over to Tripura. The Longuda massacre on 4-5 May, 1989, caused another 25,000 Chakmas people to take refuge in Tripura. The initiative for repatriation of refugees gathered momentum after the visit of Prime Minister of Bangladesh (the then) Begum Khalida Zia in May, 1992 after an understanding with the Indian Prime Minster (the then) Shri P.V. Narsimha Rao. The pathetic living conditions in refugee camps in Tripura worsened further and the conditions were allegedly being created so that the remaining refugees under duress return back to Bangladesh. The Commission took cognizance of this grave and sensitive issue. In order to have first hand assessment of the situation, the NHRC deputed its own team for spot enquiries to assess the ground realities of the relief camps. The team of the Investigation Division of the Commission visited these camps in May, 1996 wherein the refugee population was found to be 49,275 (9319 families) in six camps in south Tripura district. The NHRC visit brought about significant improvement in the areas of administration of the camps, supply of Ration and other commodities, better accommodation, water supply, medical care, educational facilities, payment of allowances, deployment of mobile task force for their safety and security etc. The NHRC intervention also helped in removal of blockade of essential commodities/vegetables to refugee camps and there was no imminent threat as such for exerting pressure for their repatriation.
The situation in the state of Arunachal Pradesh was however different. The NHRC for the plight of Chakma refugees of Arunachal Pradesh, invoked the writ jurisdiction of the Apex Court for enforcement of the rights under Article 21 of the constitution, of about 65,000 Chakma/Hajong tribals. The supreme court on 9.1.1996 in a land mark judgment, upon consideration of the matter, had held, that “We are unable to accept the contention of the state govt. that no threat exists to the life and liberty of the Chakmas guaranteed by Art.21 of the constitution, and that it had taken adequate steps to ensure the protection of the Chakmas. After handling the present matter for more than a year, the NHRC recorded a prima facie finding that the service of quit notices and their admitted enforcement appeared to be supported by the officers of the state Govt. The NHRC further held that the state Govt. had, on the one hand, delayed the disposal of the matter by not furnishing the required response and had, on the other hand, sought to enforce the eviction of the Chakmas through its agencies. It was further held that, the Chakmas have settled in Arunachal Pradesh since the last about two and a half decades and have raised their families in the said State. Their children have married and they too have had children. Thus, a large number of them, were born in the state itself. Now it is proposed to uproot them by force. The ASPSU has been giving out threats to forcibly drive them out to the neighbouring State which in turn is unwilling to accept them. The residents of the neighbouring State have also threatened to kill them if they try to enter their State. They are thus sandwiched between two forces, each pushing in opposite direction, which can only hurt them. What is evident in the NHRC interventions is that the NHRC powers are limited. The group members were of the view that it is through consultative process and dialogue effective resistance can be brought bout.
The noted lawyer and activist B.T. Venkatesh pointed out how women migrant workers are forced to do sex- work also highlighted the gender politics of internal displacement in the second day of the workshop. He discussed in detail the mining projects in Karnataka and the ecological effects. In this context, he referred to the KIOCL project activities. He was critical of the state governments’ initiative to declare Kudremukh a national reserve in the name of ecological preservation because thousands of tribals will be displaced. He also pointed out how tribals are billed killed under the garb of naxalites.
During the course of the workshop participants from Goa and Kerala pointed that it is important to critically look at the eco-tourism projects and the displacement caused by these projects. They were critical of the Coastal Regulation Zone Act. The need to review NRP 2006, and the existing policies and bills was voiced by all the participants. There was a common consensus to review the Land Acquisition Act and the workshop ended on a note of future consultations between civil society organizations, academicians working on internal displacement in India.
Dominance, Development, Displacement, Rights and the Issue of Law(27-29 July 2007, Bhubaneswar)
27 July (Friday)
11.30 AM Chair: Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chowdhury
Welcome address: Asha Hans, Director, Sansristi
11.35 AM Introduction to the workshop: Ranabir Samaddar, Director, CRG
11.50 AM Inaugural address: Hon’ble Justice D. P. Mohapatra, Chairperson, Orissa State Human Rights
12.30 PM Special address: Mr. A.B. Tripathi, NHRC, Bhubaneshwar
Vote of thanks
1.15 PM Lunch break
2.15 PM Chair: Sibaji Pratim Basu
(Formation of working groups)
Lecture on “Internal Displacement – causes, linkages, responses” by Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chowdhury
2.45–3.00PM Tea Break
3.00 PM Group discussions on “ Is the Right to return a symbolic right?” Lessons from Orissa, Jharkhand and
Moderator: Asha Hans and Aditi Bhaduri
4.30 PM Report on Group Discussion
28 July (Saturday)
9.30 AM Chair: Amrita Patel
Lecture on “Human Rights Laws and Regimes of Protection of IDPs” by Sabyasachi Basu Ray
10.30 AM Tea Break
10.45 Leaving for Vani Vihar
11. 30 AM Special lecture on the Internal Displacement in Bangladesh: Imtiaz Ahmed
(Venue: Utkal University, Vani Vihar)
Chair: Vice Chancellor, Utkal University
Welcome address: S.N.Mishra
Vote of thanks: Jayanti Jagdev
1.15 PM Return to hotel
1.45 PM Lunch Break
2.45 PM Special Lecture on “Paradigms of development discourse and displacement – Case studies from Orissa”
by K C Samal from Centre for Nabakrishna Chowdhary Development Studies and Praful Samant Roy,
Chair: Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chowdhury
3.45-4.00 PM Tea Break
4.00 PM Group Discussions on Module B: Human Rights laws and instruments of protection
– international, regional, and national regimes of protection, and the principle of legal responsibility
(with special reference to the gender question)
Moderator: Madhuresh Kumar and Imtiaz Ahmed
5.00 PM Break
7.00PM Film Show
29 July (Sunday)
9.30 AM Panel Discussion on The Situation of IDPs due to conflict , development, and natural and man-made
Disasters :case studies from Eastern India.
Panelists: Bibhu Tripathy and Ishita Dey
Chair: Asha Hans
10.45-11.00AM Tea break
11.00 AM Panel Discussion on the Voices of IDPs: Asha Hans, Amrita Patel and Madhuresh Kumar, Balaji Pandey,
Vikramaditya, Pramila Swain
Moderator: Ranabir Samaddar
12.00 PM Participants’ group discussions under Module C: Durable Solutions – Relief and Resettlement Policies
(with special reference to women)
Moderator: Aditi Bhaduri and Sudeep Basu
1.00 PM Lunch Break
2.00 PM Participants’ Presentation under Module C: Durable Solutions – Relief and Resettlement Policies (with
special reference to women)
Moderator: Sibaji Pratim Basu
3 PM Tea break
3.30 PM Valedictory lecture: G.V.V. Sharma, I.A.S., Revenue Secretary, Government of Orissa
Guest of Honour: Himadri Mahapatra, Orissa State Human Rights Commission.
4.30 PM Presentation of certificates
4.45 PM Vote of thanks: Ishita Dey
The second workshop organized by CRG
was held in collaboration with Sansristi, Bhubanehswar. The main agenda of
the three-day workshop was to focus on the development induced displacement
in Orissa and West Bengal to initiate a dialogue on the National
Rehabilitation Policy 2006 and to understand the demands of the resistance
movements against SEZ in India. The major thrust area of this workshop was
the survivors of forced migration, particularly internally displaced persons
in India, with special emphasis on the eastern part of the country, although
examples from other states in India as well as other countries in South Asia
may be brought in for purposes of comparison and analysis.
Module B: Human Rights laws and
instruments of protection – international, regional, and national
regimes of protection, and the principle of legal responsibility (with
special reference to the gender question)
Module C: Durable Solutions – Relief
and Resettlement Policies (with special reference to women)
Asha Hans, Director Sansristi, extended her heartfelt welcome to all the participants and hoped that this workshop will open up new dimensions for academics, grassroots level activists and civil society organization working on various aspects of internal displacement in India.
Ranabir Samddar, director CRG, introduced the theme of the workshop and pointed out that the issue of forced displacement from the rights point of view should be analysed in the context of globalization. He also argued that displacement has changed the priority of human rights. Earlier when people talked about rights; reference was made solely to fundamental rights; directive principles; social and economic rights; any person would pose a question what happens to the right to equality; what happens to the right to equality under the provision of the Indian constitution. Right to equality according to him had very little importance in the case of the people who are served notices to evacuate land. In this context, he referred to the field visit to Benaras during the First Winter Course on Forced migration. The participants interacted with people who were displaced thrice in their lifetime. It is against this backdrop that one should question state responsibility; question of land; labour in the unorganized sector constantly being constantly evicted from one place to another. These groups are unfortunately form the core of the “invisible” population of the visible democratic state. While there have been attempts to expand the meaning of the article 21 on the other hand the violence in Gujarat, Jammu Kashmir, construction of dams, mines and the kind of life they are forced to live will remain beyond the purview of the judiciary and the state machinery. The iron laws of globalization- has been responsible for forced displacement; and it is the issue of forced displacement which has re-shaped the rights agenda.
D.P. Mohapatra, Chairperson, Orissa Human Rights Commission inaugurated the workshop and the guest of honour for the inaugural session was A.B. Tripathi. IPS (Retd) Former Director General of Police, Orissa and Former Special Rapporteur of NHRC. Both of them highlighted certain fascinating aspects of the internal displacement situation in India. Both of them in their address highlighted the need to address to issue of resettlement and rehabilitation, which could be an effective solution for the internally displaced people due to development induced displacement. Most of the resistance movements in Kalainganagar and elsewhere have been a result of unplanned development discourse which failed to examine the nature of displacement that these projects could have created.
D. P. Mohapatra, in his inaugural address pointed out that rehabilitation and resettlement goes hand in hand. The attempt to rehabilitate and resettle entails various complex issues and requires persistent effort; exercise of right to life and integration with the local populace so that they do not feel discriminated. In this context he referred to a locality in Cuttack known as the “refugee” colony. The very usage of this name according to his view creates a sense of dislocation and an attribution of stigma attached to the landless people who are forced to resettle themselves in a new area. He also emphasized that it is important to address how to avoid displacement in any area. For this there should be a survey conducted to identify the number of people residing in the area, their source of livelihood. He congratulated CRG’s efforts to work on a firm policy on rehabilitation and resettlement. Land acquisition process in itself should be reviewed.
A.B. Tripathi, the guest of honour spoke on the Relief and Rehabilitation Policy, Orissa, 2006. The draft was formulated after 13 tribals were killed in Kalingagnagar. According to A. B. Tripathi, the draft prepared by the state is one of the best in the country. He mentioned that the draft was prepared under the supervision of an IPS officer from Karnataka. He argued that that effective policies like the Orissa R&R policy could prevent violent incidents in Kalinganagar. He was critical about the various development projects that are in progress and pointed out that “displacement” is seen as a law and order problem in the eyes of the state. There is a need to review the land acquisition process in terms of acres of land that is being allocated for steel projects in Orissa or even for university. The land allocation often subsumes the industry and the township which leads to enormous displacement of agricultural people who are left landless. He concluded his address by citing that the state should review land allocation and pointed out how IT parks require less amount of land compared to other industries; in a way reinstating that the land allocation should be examined before sanctioning the projects in line.
On 27 July 2007, Ranabir Samaddar in his lecture on Module A looked at the way the Indian State has created a consensus on development among the people. The state consensus assumes displacement as an inevitable outcome of development. In this lecture he looked at the UN guiding principles and 1951 convention to examine the nature of the displacement situation in India.
On Module B, Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury also referred to the Deng Principles and pointed out that it has ignored development-induced displacement as it mainly drew upon Sub-Saharan experiences of conflict. 1951 convention has been criticized for its failure to recognize gender-related issues specially rights of women and children. As a result conventions like CEDAW should be read as a parallel text to understand the international regimes of protection as against the national regimes of protection which implies the policy exercise that the Indian state has resorted to cope with the demands of the internally displaced due to development induced displacement. There is no machinery of protection for the conflict-induced displacement.
During the course of the workshop, participants reviewed the National Rehabilitation Policy 2006 from the lens of the existing international framework as a part of the group discussion on “Module C: Durable Solutions – Relief and Resettlement Policies (with special reference to women)” and expressed their anxiety regarding the awareness of the laws. The participants felt that the rehabilitation package should be decided in consultation with the people. There is a need to strengthen the Intellectual property rights to protect indigenous knowledge. Everybody agreed that there is a need to review the compensation package. The revenue department decided the compensation package in case of Behrampur irrigation project. In such cases the department failed to identify the needs of the community. Thus the participants agreed that need-based resettlement packages are possible through consultative process between the project affected, NGO and the state.
During the course of the workshop there was a special Lecture organised by CRG, Dept of Journalism & Electronic Communication and School of Women’s Studies, Utkal University. Dr. Imtiaz Ahmed delivered his special lecture on “Internal Displacement in Bangladesh”. On this occasion the Jayanti Jagdev, Director, School of Women’s Studies gave her welcome address. Prof. L. N Mishra, Journalism and Prof. L. N Mishra, VC Utkal University were present on this occasion.
This was followed by two lectures on “Paradigms of development discourse and displacement – Case studies from Orissa” by K C Samal from Centre for Nabakrishna Chowdhary Development Studies and Praful Samant Roy, Social Activist. Both of them through various case studies in Orissa highlighted that the fruits of development should be equally shared.
The workshop concluded with the valedictory address by G.V.V. Sharma, I.A.S., Revenue Secretary, Government of Orissa. Himadri Mahapatra, Orissa State Human Rights Commission was the Guest of honour for the valedictory session.
Unkept Promises: Displacement and Little or No Resettlement under the Left Front Government in West Bengal (3-6 September 2007, Kolkata)
3 September 2007 (Monday)
5- 6.45PM Inaugural session
Chair: Subhas Ranjan Chakraborty, President CRG
5–5.05 PM Welcome address by Subhas Ranjan Chakraborty, President, CRG
5.05–5.20 PM Introduction to the Workshop: Ranabir Samaddar, Director, CRG
5.20 – 6 PM Release of the Report on Development–induced Displacement in West Bengal (prepared by Walter
Fernandes and others) and Inaugural address by Hon’ble Justice Shyamal Kumar Sen, Chairperson,
West Bengal State Human Rights Commission.
6 – 6.15 PM Remarks by Walter Fernandes, Guest of Honour.
6.15–6.45 PM Press release.
6.45 PM Tea
4 September 2007 (Tuesday)
9.30 –11 AM Discussion on the National Rehabilitation Policy (2006) of Government of India.
Facilitator: Samir Kumar Das
11.30 – 12 noon Tea Break
12- 1.30 PM Discussion on Typology of displacement, international norms and the Indian Scenario
Facilitator: Walter Fernandes
1.30– 2.30 PM Lunch Break
2.30– 4PM Working Group Discussion I
Group A: Women and children IDPs: vulnerability and government response
Moderator: Aditi Bhaduri
Group B: Internal Displacement situation in North East.
Moderator: Monirul Hussain
Group C: Internal Displacement situation in West Bengal.
Moderator: Subir Bhaumik
4-4.30PM Tea Break
4.30- 6PM Film Show
5 September 2007 (Wednesday)
9.30-10.30AM Report on the working group discussions on the previous day
Moderator: Sabyasachi Basu Raychowdhury.
10.30- 11AM Tea Break
11- 12.30PM Discussion on SEZ and displacement
Facilitator: Ishita Dey
12.30-1.30PM Lunch Break
1.30-3PM Discussion on the situation of the indigenous people
Facilitator: Walter Fernandes
3-3.30PM Tea Break
3.30-5PM Working Group Discussion II
Group A: Situations in Orissa, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh
Group B: Natural disaster-induced displacement
Moderator: Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chowdhury
Group C: Conflict-induced displacement
Moderator: Paula Banerjee
5-7PM Film show
6 September 2007 (Thursday)
9.30–10.30 AM Report on the working group discussions on the previous day
Moderator: Ishita Dey
10.30-11AM Tea Break
11-12.30PM Discussion on instrumental mechanisms
Facilitator: Sujato Bhadra
12.30-1.30PM Lunch Break
1.30-2.30PM Discussion on future plans
Facilitator: Ranabir Samaddar
2.30-3PM Tea Break
3- 3.10PM Presentation of Certificates
3.10-3.25PM Vote of thanks
The third and the final series of
workshop was held in Kolkata from 3-6 September 2007 September in Hotel The
Sojourn, Kolkata. The primary aim of the workshop was to generate a dialogue
on the how the existing typologies on internal displacement are governed by
state discourse. In continuum with the previous discussions in Bangalore,
Bhubaneshwar and Delhi it was felt that in order to understand the
prevailing state discourse in India we should initiate a dialogue on the
National Rehabilitation Policy 2006, the Communal Violence Bill and the
Forest Bill. Media-persons, lawyers, and activists from Assam, Nagaland,
Manipur, North Bengal and other states attended the workshop. Participants
from the previous workshops also attended the three-day proceedings.
Following this, Walter Fernandes in his inaugural remarks highlighted how the tribals and the dalits were at the receiving end in the name of development in West Bengal, which demanded acquisition of 29lakh acres of private land and 7 lakh acres of common land. 30% of the displaced are Dalits or SCs and there are large numbers of backward castes. The study he pointed out is based on available land records till 1990. In this context he pointed out that the West Bengal Government has committed 2lakh 2000 acres of land solely for industrial purpose. The report findings show that only nine projects have resettled some DPs. The resettlement process was applicable for DPs of private land. Some of the projects that have resettled their DPs are Maithan(1950), Mayurakshi(1961-1990), DVC(1960-1981), Kunustoria Mine(1960s), Bakreshwar Thermal 80-90s, EM Bypass(1990s) and Budge Budge Thermal Power station(1980). The report findings conclude with a note to minimise displacement as the development model fails to distribute the benefits of projects equally to all. After the inaugural address, there was a press release.
On 4 September 2007 Samir Kumar Das initiated a discussion on National Rehabilitation Policy 2006. He claimed that it is significant to read the policy exercises in the context of globalisation. NRP 2006 is another policy which aims to create pervasive nationalist consciousness through creation of provisionary resettlement policies for the project affected. He pointed out that NRP 2006 should be read parallel to Communal Violence Bill. Sanam and Ishita presented a critique of the Communal violence Bill.
The issue of resettlement and rehabilitation in both the bills are problematic because though the policy/ bill propagates consultative process the very notion underlying the policy exercise is rooted in the politics of inclusion/ exclusion. The proceedings of the discussion of typology of displacement initiated by Walter Fernandes highlighted the politics of exclusion and inclusion and said the state has always maintained a politics of favouritism towards conflict-induced and disaster induced displacement compared to development induced displacement. In this context, he said it is very important to examine the fundamental issues like the Land Acquisition Act 1894 in particular, and to rethink whether or not the very act and demand of policy exercise will be of any help. This was followed by the three working group discussion on 4 September 2007 on Women and children IDPs: vulnerability and government response, Internal Displacement situation in North East and Internal Displacement situation in West Bengal.
On 5 September 2007 there was a special lecture by Prof. Monirul hussain on the Nellie Massacre which was well attended. The discussion on SeZ and displacement revolved around the existing paradigms of development, global governance and resistance movements in various regions against the expansion of SeZ. The Governments neo-liberal paradigm was discussed in detail in this session. In the discussion on indigenous people, Sebastian Rodrigues presented a critique on the Forest Bill and Walter Fernandes initiated the discussion. The forest bill was discussed in detail in the group discussion on Situations in Orissa, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh. The other two discussions were on Natural –disaster induced displacement and conflict induced displacement. The proceedings of the session had certain common issues like the right to return, the need to approach the question of resettlement and rehabilitation from the vantage point of the needs of the community rather than a overarching policy on R&R. The inclusion of IDP in the refugee mandate was also debated. The discussion on instrumental mechanisms focused on a needs- based approach which would address the particularistic concerns rather than the general concerns of the community. The workshop ended with the participants sharing their experience about the workshop.
(For a detailed report on the three consultations kindly visit the section on reports) 12. CRG Workshop on India’s R&R Policy, 16 August 2007, Delhi
Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group organized a one-day deliberation in YMCA, Delhi on the recent draft of Resettlement and Rehabilitation Policy of Government of India on 16 August 2007. The proposed meeting was attended by a select group of academics, human rights activists, media - persons and lawyers to review the existing R&R policy. The meeting was attended by Vrinda Grover, Ashok Agrawaal, Sahana Basavapatna, Sanam Roohi, Paula Baneree, Ranabir Samaddar, Vinai Kumar Singh, Madhuresh Kumar. Priyanca Mathur Velath, Walter Fernandes, Malvika Vartak, Pradip Kumar Bose, Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury, Samir Kumar Das and Ishita Dey. The daylong deliberation was divided into three sessions.
In the first Session, Ranabir Samaddar in his introductory remarks spoke briefly on the Internal Displacement programme of CRG in general and the three Internal displacement workshops in Bangalore, Bhubaneshwar and Kolkata in particular. He reflected on how most of the activists and environmental groups from South India, mainly Kerala, Goa and Andhra Pradesh in IDP workshop in Bangalore were critical of the CRZ act in particular. During the course of the group discussions one of the questions raised by academics from Chennai and Bangalore was whether or not the National Rehabilitation Policy will be able to address the specific necessities of the “community”. In this context he cited the instance post tsunami, how the construction work carried out in Andaman and Nicobar Island did not take into account the existing ecological conditions. He sincerely hoped that in the joint critique prepared by Walter Fernandez, Priyanca Mathur Velath and Madhuresh would address these complexities. The chair of the session Prof. Pradip Bose invited Samir Kumar Das to present his initiatory comments.
In the initiatory comments, Samir Kumar Das argued that the very practice of policy explosion should be seen as an act of re-building the nationalist consciousness about development. Post independence, people were ready to undertake little sacrifices for industrial development and eager to pay the price for the nation as a whole. As this nationalist consensus gradually got fractured, the need for enunciating policies basically meant reincorporating the fragments into the national body and reestablishing the consensus is more deeply felt. Globalization therefore coincides with a hitherto unprecedented policy explosion. Post 1990s there has been a phase of policy explosion, which has two fold implications. They are (a) the language of policies is not the language of rights. Rights are basically defined as claims against the collective. (b) The fragments once re-placed and reunified with the national body will not make the latter exactly the same as before. As far the draft policy is concerned “rehabilitation” as guaranteed by the draft is only an adjunct to development – meant basically for assuaging the displaced produced by it. But at no point, is right against displacement viewed as a value in itself – a reason for scrapping or stalling displacement-inducing development projects and development strategies. While non-displacing or least displacing alternatives need to be explored as per the policy draft (this is in tune with the Guiding Principles), there is no guarantee that development project will have to be scrapped if alternatives cannot be found. In short, protection against displacement is never viewed from a rights-based perspective. He highlighted the inherent “number bias” in the policy draft. The Social Impact Assessment a newly introduced provision will be applicable in case of projects that will “displace physically” 400 or more families in the plains and 200 in the hill or scheduled areas and DDP blocks. The gender insensitivity is reflected in the way the draft treats unmarried daughters and sisters within the purview of the family rather than as independent individuals. The draft not only makes a distinction between the project-affected persons but also prioritises the Project Affected compared to the Displaced persons. Another significant point of departure is the fact that this draft fails to make little room for discussion between project affected and the requiring agency. Though it speaks of “prior informed consent” the draft fails to address the question of peoples involvement other than rehabilitation measures which will be decided in the deliberations of gram sabhas in rural areas and public hearing in case of urban areas. The focus of NRP 2006 is on resettlement with a few possible additions such as land “if available” and preference in jobs “if there are vacancies” and if the persons are qualified for the jobs. He concluded his presentation with a note on the efficacy of act vs policies and how the present draft draws inspiration from the Land Acquisition Act 1894 by borrowing phrases like acquisition for “public purpose” or any other reason.
This was followed by brief interventions from Madhuresh, Walter and Priyanca. Madhuresh in his brief presentation highlighted one instance of broken promise, the case of Bhakra Nanagal Project. The oft-quoted Bhakra legend, through a study conducted by Manthan Adhyayan Kendra in April 2005, reveals that approximately 371 villages were affected. Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) states that 7,206 families, i.e., 36,000 persons were affected. There was no uniform policy for the displaced and those displaced by the level of 1280 feet were given only cash compensation and those above 1280 feet and upto 1700 feet were either given an option for cash or land compensation. After 20 years of completion of the dam, Government’s Rehabilitation Committee submitted its report in 1983 claiming to have rehabilitated all the displaced families. Today the ongoing struggles of the DPs in Narmada, Koel Karo, Tehri, Rengali, Tawa, Indira Sagar, Kashipur, and Kalinganagar among other regions are the lessons that the prevalent discourse of development should probe into. What is pertinent to us are the draconian measures of the Land Acquisition Act of 1894 that has been instrumental in aiding development induced displacement and state’s failure to formulate a general R&R policy.
Walter Fernandes in his presentation pointed out that the crucial question we should pose ourselves whether or not NRP 2006 will lead to rehabilitation? In his critique he did a comparative study between NPRR 2003 and NRP 2006. He argued that for resettlement to lead to rehabilitation, it has first to prevent impoverishment. That is the main reason for the insistence on minimising displacement and for stating that those who pay the price should be the first beneficiaries of the project. These statements enunciate the principle that their lifestyle should be better after the project than before it because they pay the price of development. A basic condition for it is a democratic process that includes their prior informed consent.
Priyanca Mathur Velath in her critique of the draft feels that the essential problem with rehabilitation and resettlement in India is “lack of political will”. Despite the much-quoted recent promises of the Indian Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh at the FICCI Annual General Meeting in New Delhi in January 2007 that, ‘a new Rehabilitation Policy will be finalised in the next three months, which will be more progressive, humane and conducive to the long term welfare of all the stakeholders in our economy’ the fact remains that ‘for 50 years the Indian Government did not wish to promulgate a National Policy on (Rehabilitation and Resettlement) R & R for serving its own people or discharging its constitutional responsibilities’. The lack of political will is implicit in the way these drafts asked for suggestions from people. While NPRR 2003 was advertised in newspapers in February 2004; the new draft was put up on the website of the Union Ministry of Rural Development only from 4 - 11 October, 2004 and people were given only seven days to respond to it. As comments were solicited only on the website the process excluded the participation of all those affected people who did not have access to the internet. In this context she argued whether this draft could empower the powerless and restrict the process of impoverishment that displacement necessarily ensures. It also has to ensure social justice. Any modern legislation for the displaced, to be relevant to the needs of our times has to invoke the consent of all the parties involved, ensure participation and be transparent. Monetary compensation should only be part of the package that should be calculated on current market rates. Rehabilitation should be seen as a right not some concession, providing it should be the legal duty of the government and the displaced should be made equal stakeholders in the benefits of the development process.
Paula Banerjee chaired the next session where she initiated the discussion on the gender and legal aspects of the NRP 2006. Malvika Vartak felt that the policy failed to address women’s ownership of land. She argued that many women are dependent on land for their livelihood. She wondered whether or not NRP 2006 has any provision for a woman dependent on forest produce. It is at this juncture Walter Fernandes consented to Malvika’s proposition. He insisted that policies should be owner oriented. He also pointed out the caste/ tribe dynamics within gender that often leads to an exclusionary politics. Malvika pointed out that resettlement has other implications. As an instance she cited the instance how the drop-out rate of girl children increased among resettlement cams for the project affected in Indira Sagar dam. She also drew our attention to the Salwa Judum Camps where women have been subject to sexual assault.
Priyanca Mathur Velath wondered whether or not the definition of the “family” will have any larger societal implications. Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury reflected that the way the “family is defined will be a an aid in the claim making process. From a legal perspective he felt that this policy serves a limited purpose, as it is not justiciable. With the liberalization of economy, the market forces play an important role to ‘manufacture consent’ and this is implicit in the NRP 2006 which primarily focuses on development induced displacement. Samir Das and Vinai Kumar Singh felt that there are two ways of looking at policies, i.e., it has no legal purpose or policies contain the potential of initiating legal changes.
Vinai Kumar Singh emphasized that right to property; right to housing should be two important components of the R&R policy. In this context, Malvika pointed that the within the international law there should be provision of security of tenure. This will prevent arbitrary eviction. The national legal system should delineate certain scheduled areas where purchasing and selling of land should be banned. Ranabir Samaddar felt that the right to property should be seen as an individual right and distinguished from collective right. Walter Fernandes who felt community rights are crucial as it is the only way of ensuring right to tenure and right to livelihood opposed this argument. Ranabir Samaddar asked the house to rethink of a replacement of the “eminent domain” argument. In this context he felt that it is significant to reflect on the way we define “public trust” and Trusteeship”.
In the concluding session, Vrinda Grover engaged with the Communal Violence Bill. She pointed out that the ambit of this bill is not only to address religious violence, but also caste, tribe. The bill in a nutshell aims to cover the entire gamut of conflict. The bill proposes to demarcate communally disturbed areas. Any area that does not lie within this classificatory scheme will not receive any aid or compensation when violence erupts. She was critical about the way the institutional arrangement of the relief and rehabilitation scheme. She concluded with a note that this bill merely aims to fulfill one of the agenda of the Common Minimum Programme of the UPA Government in the wake of 2009 elections. Following her critique of the Bill, Ranabir Samaddar wanted to know whether or not the provisions of this bill recognized IDP as a legal category. Vrinda said it’s a long way for the state to recognize IDP as a legal category.
The meeting concluded with a note on the necessity to engage with the Communal Violence bill and the Forest bill to understand the state discourse on policy exercise. Ranabir Samaddar in the concluding session decided on the submission deadline of the revised draft of the joint critique. The deadline was 31August 2007. It was agreed that Ishita and Sanam would work on a critique of the Communal Violence Bill.
(The detailed critique of NRP 2006 and Communal Violence Bill has been published by CRG. Please visit the section on publications for further details)