Compensate tribals affected by Polavaram project: NCST

Compensate tribals affected by Polavaram project: NCST

President Ram Nath Kovind receives a special report of the Commission on 'Indira Sagar Polavaram Project Affected Tribal People' from National Commission for Scheduled Tribes Chairperson Dr Nand Kumar Sai at Rashtrapati Bhavan, in New Delhi on Tuesday. PT

The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) has recommended that the Andhra Pradesh government should provide cultivable lands, a fair compensation and alternative means of livelihood to the tribal community members affected by the execution of Indira Sagar Polavaram Project in the state.

The recommendations have been made by the commission in a special report prepared by it on the basis of an “on-the-spot” assessment of the resettlement and rehabilitation of members of the Schedule Tribe affected by the project.

NCST chairman Nand Kumar Sai along with other members of the commission submitted the report to President Ram Nath Kovind on Tuesday.

The commission conducted the on-the-spot assessment of resettlement and rehabilitation of the tribals affected by the irrigation project, visiting the state from March 26 to March 28.

“In many cases, the alternative land given to them (displaced tribals) in lieu of the acquired land is not cultivable. Either it is rocky terrain or there is no water,” the report noted.

The state government should provide “only land fit for agriculture” to the affected persons “within the command area of Polavaram irrigation project with proper irrigation facilities,” it recommended.

The commission noted that many of the Scheduled Tribe members without land holdings were also shifted and left to depend on the minor forest produces for their livelihood.

“Now that they are shifted, they are deprived of their livelihood. The state government needs to take care of them by providing alternative means of livelihood,” the commission recommended.

When the commission visited Iddikulakotta village, complaints were received stating that in that village, many newly constructed houses were destroyed due to flash flood and so far the destroyed houses have not been rebuilt.

“The destroyed houses should be rebuilt immediately to mitigate the sufferings of Scheduled Tribe people,” the commission recommended.

In its report, the commission also recommended that the state government should revise the compensation packages “on the suo-moto basis,” keeping in view the observations and modalities suggested by the Supreme Court in the case of Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd Versus Mathias Oram and others.

“Similar scheme as per the Supreme Court order will help the Schedule Tribe people affected by Polavaram irrigation project as their right to fair compensation,” it added.

While awarding compensation, “land for land” policy should be followed “to the maximum extent.”

“In this regard, the ceiling of 2.5. acres of land should be waived in case of scheduled tribe people, and they should be provided equal or at least 2.5 acres of land within the command area of the Polavaram irrigation project,” the commission added.

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