Mismanaging rehabilitation projects

A countrywide major hurdle in the entire development process is that of acquiring land of private owners for project purposes. There are laws governing this aspect and the laws are adhered to. In our State, we have the Land Acquisition Act in force. But despite legal safeguards and provisions, more often than not, a slew of litigations follow every major or minor project of acquiring private land. The law says that if the amount of compensation given by the Government to a person or group of persons whose lands or properties are acquired is not acceptable, they can take their case to a superior court of law.  Generally speaking, in view of massive escalation in the cost of land and living in our country, people whose lands have been acquired, rush to the superior courts and file a case of inadequate remuneration for the lands acquired by the Government. Then ensues long drawn litigation, which may go on for years at end. This becomes one of the most known reasons fore long delay in bring out the projects to final stage.
The second problem is of payment of approved compensation to the owners of private and property acquired by the Government for some project. It has often been seen that there are many lacunae in the disbursement of the remuneration money to the concerned owners and also in the system of rehabilitating the affected families at a new place. Earlier there was only remuneration and no rehabilitation but after the enactment of new rules the affected families have to be rehabilitated at the alternate place. That is the responsibility of the agency floating the project.
The case in point is of Baglihar Hydroelectric Project on river Chenab.  145 affected families have not been rehabilitated so far although a comprehensive resettlement and rehabilitation plan was prepared prior to the starting of the work on the project. Not only that 134 kanals of land in village Paryote had been identified for the rehabilitation of displaced Pul Doda families and an amount of 5.85 crore were sanctioned for the purpose. Locals challenged the award and as a result of litigation the Government gave up the plan. At the same time the seven-kilometer long road built by GTRF was found unsuitable and abandoned. Instead a new and safer road is now under construction. The Government has been busy with drawing an alternative plan for the rehabilitation of the affected families and the plan has to be approved by the concerned Department . When will the Department give his consent and when will the modified plan be implemented is a matter of time.  In the meanwhile the households that have been removed from Pul Doda under the scheme continue to languish in a state of uncertainty.
This lethargy on the part of the revenue and other functionaries is regrettable. It is also violation of human rights of the people involved. Whatever the hurdles, the affected families deserve full sympathy. They have been made to go through trauma for no fault of theirs. We have all sympathy with these families and we defend their case by bringing it to the notice of the civil society and Government functionaries responsible for the suffering to which these families are subjected. Obviously the alternate place identified for their rehabilitation should suit their lifestyle and it must also be provided with basic amenities like water, electric power, and sanitation and road connectivity etc.


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