New Delhi [India], August 30 (ANI): The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Monday has sought updated action taken reports from the Chief Secretary of Odisha and Chhatisgarh on the issue of large scale displacement and subsequent failure of both the Governments in rehabilitation and resettlement of more than twenty-six thousand families due to the construction of Hirakud Dam, a world-class Project.
The NHRC has also asked its Special Rapporteur, B.B. Misra to complete the investigation and submit the final investigation report to the Commission within eight weeks covering all affected areas and the ground realities.
Acting on the case and rejoinder filed by Champion of human rights, and Supreme Court lawyer, Radhakanta Tripathy, the NHRC passed the order.
Explaining the plight of the displaced victims, Tripathy stated that without proper rehabilitation and compensation more than twenty-six thousand families have been displaced for the construction of the Hirakud Dam project. The execution of the Hirakud Dam Project has submerged more than 360 villages covering more than 123,000 acres of land and displaced more than one lakh people.
"About seventy years have gone by, even the third generation of the victims could not get justice due to corrupt and lethargic bureaucracy. The Government takes steps to trace and count tigers, Olive Ridley turtles etc every year but forgets to identify the displaced victim's families", Tripathy said.
The State in its report reiterated that the land was acquired for Hiradud Dam Project during the year 1952-53. Steps were taken from time to time to mitigate the grievances of the displaced families who belong to Jharsuguda, Sambalpur, Bargarh and Subarnapur. The issues with regard to DC Patta, Payment of Ex. Gratia, Homestead Land, Settlement of Agriculture Land, Basic Amenities etc. stands settled, Tripathy said.
"As of date, no case of rehabilitation is pending. It has, however, been admitted that certain service groups of people including Jhankar/Chowkidar and others were not awarded full compensation and yet to be rehabilitated," he said.
"The issue with regard to treating the DC land Patta as revenue land is also yet to be sorted out. The Special Rapporteur of the Commission, Mishra stated that as a complainant there were 26,000 families affected. However, as per the government records, the number was around 18,000", he said.
"Even if one accepts 18,000 which is the lowest among all the figures, no such efforts were made for rehabilitation particularly in view of the assurances given from time to time. The Special Rapporteur suggested some information listed in the report, be called from the State Govt. to help resolve some of the issues", he further stated.
Tripathy pointed out that due to inaction, lethargy, negligent and adamant attitude of the State Authorities, the victims' families have been facing problems for generations in Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, Bargarh, Sundargarh and Subaranpur Districts in Odisha.
The complainant submits that families in the Raigarh and Sarguja districts of Chhattisgarh are also facing problems.
Tripathy, who fights pro-bono several cases of displacement in India, urged the NHRC to direct the Chief Secretaries of Govt. of Odisha and Chhattisgarh to submit the following report; i.e, the status of payment of ex-gratia and pending claims in each of the concerned districts of Hirakund Reservoir.
The NHRC also sought rejoinder from Tripathy by transmitting the copy of the report of the Odisha Government within six weeks.
As regards the regularization of Patta, Tripathy mentioned no sincere steps have been taken to trace the real displaced families in all the affected districts. Report with regard to the settlement of all the displaced families whether persons are traceable or not have reached finality in all the affected districts.
Tripathy further submitted that no attention has been given to genuine public grievances for more than sixty-five years on this issue. (ANI)