MSEZ: Rehab of displaced families still a mirage

MSEZ: Rehab of displaced families still a mirage

Authorities concerned carried out survey with students’ help for ‘namesake,’ say sources .

Even though it has been five years since the implementation work of Mangalore Special Economic Zone (MSEZ) began in Mangalore taluk, uncertainty still looms large over the progress of rehabilitation and resettlement for the Project Displaced Families (PDF).

With no annual and mid-term review meetings conducted by the rehabilitation monitoring committee headed by the Deputy Commissioner, which was appointed by the State government in 2008, to monitor, review and scrutinise the rehabilitation and resettlement work, it seems there is no authority to study the plight of rehabilitation process.

R&R policy violation

The MSEZ involving the partnership of ONGC, IL&FS, KIADB, OMPL and KCCI, which is accountable to follow the National Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy 2003/2007 and the rehabilitation policy issued by the Karnataka government, appears to have violated several rules in its rehabilitation process, from day one.

A case in point is conducting an effective Social Impact Assessment (SIA) of the families in the project affected areas. Chapter IV of the National Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy 2007 clearly mentions the need for preparing SIA report wherever involuntary displacement of 400 or more families takes place for the project purpose.

The guideline reads: “The above SIA report shall be prepared, in such performa as may be prescribed, considering various alternatives and using agencies accredited in the manner prescribed.”

When the guideline asks for an authenticated report, it is learnt that the MSEZ had carried out the survey for the ‘namesake’ involving students of Mangalore University and the city based private college, in the absence of any rehabilitation expert to guide the process.

As per the national and international standards and the guidelines of the National Policy, the SIA report shall be examined by an independent multi-disciplinary expert group constituted for the purpose by the appropriate Government, which is said to be not done in this case. No expert committee was formed to study the report and give suggestions and the report has been just overlooked.

The report is quite essential for any major project where large scale displacement of families is involved as it provides the baseline data for the rehabilitation and resettlement. It is based on this survey report, that the benefits are given to PDFs and assessment of benefit distribution is done.

Apart from the initial survey, supplementary SIA surveys should be carried out as and when the families are displaced over the years. Though over 1200 families have been displaced under MSEZ in Bajpe, Permude, Kalavaru areas, it is quite evident that no thorough report has been prepared so far.

In fact, the National Policy on Rehabilitation and Resettlement under the sub title ‘Information Sharing’ says that all information on displacement, rehabilitation and resettlement, with names of the affected persons and details of the rehabilitation and resettlement package, shall be placed in the public domain on the Internet, by the project authorities.

In contrary, the MSEZ website does not share any such information including the SIA report. In the absence of thorough report, it is impossible to perform assessment of socio-economic condition of the rehabilitated families over the years (post rehabilitation) or impact evaluation, which is again mandatory in the large scale projects. There is also no guarantee that all the deserving beneficiaries have been given the compensation as per the prescribed rules.

NHRC recommendations overlooked

The MSEZ has also seemingly overlooked the recommendations of National Human Rights Commission (2008), a copy of which was sent to the Deputy Commissioner earlier who in turn had forwarded the recommendations to MSEZ authorities. The NHRC recommendation also speaks of the need to lay down social impact assessment as per the R&R Bill.

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