Right Right to life with dignity, police torture, Dalit right
Peoples’ Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) got information from the Gramya Swaraj Samiti(GSS) member organization of National Alliance on Testimonial Therapy (NATT) that again foundation stone of Kanhar Dam in Sonbhadra of UP,India inaugurated on 15th January, 2011.
On 15th January, 2011 at 2 pm the villagers of Sundari gathered in front of the primary school, Sundari against the construction of the dam in the open meeting called by the current village head Mr. Ram Vichar. When again the inauguration of foundation stone of Kanhar Dam by the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Ms. Mayawati on 15th January, 2011 on her birthday. In the meeting they discussed the issue and decided the future course of action.
• Villagers oppose the construction of the big dam but are in the favour of construction of the small dam for the irrigation through the lift cannel.
• They also decided to hold foot-march from Dudhi tehsil to Robersganj district head quarter and cover 100 km starting from March 10th – 20th
More facts about Kanhar Dam
Earlier the foundation stone of the Kanhar Dam was laid in 1976 by the Chief Minister of U.P, Mr. N.D. Tiwari. The proposed Kanhar Dam is located at Amawar village of Dudhi Tehsil in Sonbhadra district of Uttar Pradesh. if Kanhar dam would have been built on Kanhar River, a tributary of the Sone River, west of North Koel and east of Rihand tributaries would have wreaked havoc in Sonebhadra district (Uttar Pradesh), Sarguja District (Chhattisgarh) and Garhwa district (Jharkhand). After completion it would have submerged an area of 3000 hectares. It would have been expected to irrigate 25772 hectares of land in district Sonebhadra and 8,000 hectares in adjoining districts of Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh. The dam would have displaced over 7,500 families from 25 villages from their ancestral land and homes in Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.
Kanhar multipurpose project got approval in September 1976 from Central Water Commission (CWC) with an initial cost of Rs 277.5 millions. It was technically approved in 1979 with a revised estimate of Rs. 558 million. Inter-state dispute between Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh on submergence land was overlooked by CWC, finally sanctioned a revised estimated cost of Rs 694.7 million. The Department of Environment of all three states was ignored completely and also no proper survey was made which concealed and overlooked the real picture of the miserable and pathetic condition of tribals. Preliminary figures estimated 900,000 trees, 2500 kuccha and 200 pucca houses, 500 wells and about 30 Government schools along with few of the other buildings would have doomed under water.
Fourteen villages of Sonebhadra district faced submergence so the tribals living in these villages decided to stall the project and then, they approached Maheshanand of Gram Swarajya Samiti (GSS) for guidance. GSS, which had been working in Dudhi and other blocks of Sonebhadra district since 1984, helped in garnering support and 'Kanhar Bachao Andolan' was formed on 23rd March 2002. Since the formation of Kanhar Bacho Andolan, every year on 23rd March tribals, women and activists gather at the construction site of the proposed project for continuing the struggle and taking to its logical culmination. 23 rd March is a red-letter day in the India's history. It was the day when Bhagat Singh, Sukdev and Rajguru faced the gallows to free the country from British colonial fetters. GSS has facilitated with strategic framework of launching awareness campaign against the Kanhar Multipurpose project in the 25 villages of UP, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. It helped Kanhar Bachao Andolan to design its advocacy, action and capacity building programmes in these villages for bringing the local communities together to stall the project. A number of initiatives were carried out viz. meetings, camps, rallies, etc. Support from Civil Society from other parts of the state was received. In fact, Justice Mohd .Z. Yacoob, sitting Judge of constitution of South Africa, patron of Peoples’ Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) also came over, visited the area & participated in the meetings. Most of the work of construction of the dam had been completed.
In the anti-dam movement, women are at the forefront. When the Government expressed its unwillingness to go by people's wishes, women resolved that they would not allow the government to displace them. Women resolved to chase away those working in the project site. Women do not allow project related vehicles, machinery or personnel.
Viswanath Karwar, the chief functionary of Kanhar Bachao Andolan, “Guided by Gram Swarajya Samiti' tribals have been able to launch a relentless struggle for stalling the project. We could continue it as the feeling of losing land and forest is as stronger among the tribals as consequences of displacement. Tribals know if they are displaced then it would wreak havoc with their entire way of life and culture. Most importantly it would dismantle them from their ancient culture. It would rob their identities
Within a span of six years, Kanhar Bachao Andolan membership had swelled to 3025. It includes 1720 men and 1305 women. The Andolan has 22-member Central committee which links up with 25 villages through its local committee. The Central Committee’s office is in Sundari village, the first village to be submerged by the Kanhar dam, if constructed. Prior to its formation, the front ranking activists of KBA made a recce of the villages falling in the submergence zone. It facilitated the process of developing local committees in these villages. These local committees link up with the Central Committee for talking ahead the struggle. These committees have been formed in 11 villages consisting of 22 members with equal participation of men and women. The role of this Committee is to keep itself informed of the latest stand of the Government on the dam, keep others updated on the issue, plan out the strategy and mode of protest.
"Majority of the peasants and landless labourers belonging Gond, Pannika, Karwar, Pariha, Chero, Bhuiyan tribes and Muslims were facing displacement from the Kanhar project. Few among them are small and medium peasants but its predominantly landless peasants. Though few of the villagers have been issued job cards to work under much-touted National Rural Guarantee Employment Scheme (NREGP) but 60 to 70 percent villagers are forced to migrate to Gujarat and Maharashtra for earning their livelihood,” said Viswanath Karwar.
“After a lot of deliberations a consensus emerged from those facing displacement community that construction of the dam should be stalled forthwith. It was the women who took the lead in the struggle. Armed with whatever implements they had they launched physical assault on the workers. The workers, fearing their safety fled from the site. The construction of the dam has come to grinding halt. The machinery and spare parts have been dismantled and sold as scrap”, added Viswanath Karwar.
The struggle of the tribals shows that they cannot be subjugated by the pushing over them the development projects. The dominant development model is itself antagonistic to their survival. Gram Swarajya Samiti had been able to kindle in them through their struggle they establish their right not merely over their resources but also their right to life a life of their own choice amidst an environment over which they have control. The chief functionary of GSS Mr. Maheshanad faced the intimidation from the Kanhar Banao group.
As per UP Revenue Act, till 1986 there was no facility for Record Operation in the area. Thus all report were made on the basis of erroneous surveys. Taking advantage of this forest department took the land of poor innocent tribals under its possession, declaring it as reserve forest under section 4 and 20 of Indian Forest Act but forest dept flagrantly violated the provision of the forest act by not giving any notification neither in the invernacular nor to the villagers and Pradhan.
In a hurry to start the project work, the authorities gave negligible amount of compensation to some people. Most of them accepted it with a note of decent. As has been the practice shrewd landlord inhumanly took over the land of the poor and innocent traumatized people on throwaway prices to negotiate comparatively better compensation from authorities. Even today most of the poor residing on their land have got no compensation at all.
Lot of public money has been pumped into Kanhar Project. Sheer wastage of Rs. 50 – 60 cr in road, building, paint, soil etc is clearly visible which aggravate the agony of the people affected. The relief and rehabilitation is standing last in the queue of getting fund and therefore rehabilitation as such has been the last priority. The project is clearly violating the basic rights given to downtrodden villagers and tribals in the constitution of rights like right to life, right to healthy environment, right to education and many others. Government on the other hand, itself violates law by hindering and destroying the rich forest full of bio-diversity. Livelihood and culture of more than 7500 families from 25 villages is on the verge of extinction. Priminiary figures estimate 5000 sq. Km land, 9 lakh trees, 2500 kuccha and 200 pucca houses, 500 wells and about 30 govt school along with other building shall be doomed under water.
Earlier instances of Rihand dam, NTPC, coal mines etc. In such an apathetic situation the innocent poor traumatized people, for securing of their life and livelihood are demanding the following.
1. The people should not be uprooted from the land and forest of their ancestral settlements.
2. An independent high –level committee should be setup to enquire into the anomalies under the project mainly –
• Misuse of public funds under the project due to negligence of the project authority.
• Violations of recommendations given by the CWC and Environmental Board.
3. The compensation as paid to illiterate and ignorant people 25 year should be seen in the light of guidance’s given by the Supreme Court in the context of displacement and rehabilitation.
4. The relief and rehabilitation policy should strictly follow the guidelines and recommendation given by the NWDTA (Narmada Water Dispute Award)
5. A National Rehabilitation policy should be drafted with the consultation of displaced people.
These demands should be seen in the light of resettlement and rehabilitation national standards/SC verdicts/ and international convents to which India is also signatory.
Resettlement and Rehabilitation
India lacks a national policy on Rehabilitation Resettlement primarily because this area as per the seventh schedule of the constitution is responsibility of the state and not the center. Kanhar project, has reiterated the fact that resettlement and environment are if only secondary importance to the Government of India. Even after authenticated figures of massive involuntary displacement and planned implementation of rehabilitation if any. Established as synonyms of power since II world war by industrial and developing countries have built high dams in rural forest and frontier regions. Usually this development has resulted in the incursion of lands of indigenous and tribal people. The special socio – economic situation of these groups first gave rise to measures to protect person subject to involuntary resettlement.
The earlier international recognition of involuntary resettlement occurred in 1957 in that year International Labour Organization (ILO) passed Convention 107, which required that indigenous or tribal oustee families be “provided with lands of quality at least equal to that of the lands previously occupied by them, suitable to provide for their present need and future development.” India subsequently ratified the convention in September, 29, 1958. So, it becomes mandatory for the authorities to follow the convention ratified by India.
In 1980, the worlds bank adopted for the first time a general resettlement policy. Indeed the World Bank made clear in the policy that there must not only be resettlement but also rehabilitation. Therefore the policy provided that, upon resettlement, displaced persons should “regain at least their previous standard of living”. Such persons were to include those displaced by dams and canals.
Further in 1982, the World Bank developed a policy specified designed for tribal people. The policy provided that the customary usage of tribal land should be respected and required that the tribal people should only be displaced when the borrowing country can safeguard the integrity and well being of the tribal people effectively through resolution or other measures.
With the court’s 1993 decision in Nilabati Behera v.. State of Orissa, a constitutional right to monetary compensation for the unlawful deprivation of an article 21 right, seems well entrenched. Articulating the underlying principle on which the liability of the state arose for payment of compensation, the court stated. It may be mentioned straight away that award of compensation in a proceeding under article 32 by this court… is a remedy available in public law based on strict liability for contravention of fundamental rights to which the principle of sovereign immunity does not apply.
Although the numbers of people who will lose land in this project is an estimate, those who do lose land to the canal and irrigation system are offered compensation under the Land Acquisition Act of 1894. The acquisition of land under the Land Acquisition Act, though has often meant that farmer who lose their land are compensated at rates substantially lower than replacement costs. Thus, villagers living in the path of the canal have not been provided with resettlement benefits, as World Bank policy has required. In the case of the Kanhar, India and the affected states bound themselves to meet stricter standards for resettlement and rehabilitation that the government has agreed to in the past. India has ratified convention 107 in 1958. Furthermore, India and the concerned states signed the credit and loan agreements with the World Bank that contain explicit standards for resettlement and rehabilitation. Despite formal agreement to comply with these standards through India did not comply with the norms.
Why the International treaties and conventions should be adhered to?
In India, it is a settled principal of law that international treaties and conevants to which India is signatory, as well as established principles of international law, are to be read into the legal regime and fundamental rights of citizen of India. The Supreme Court has held in a large number of cases that International treaties and convenants can be read into the domestic fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution. In Gramaphone Co. of India Ltd. Vs. B.B Pandey this court has held that:
There can be no question that nations must march with the international community and the municipal law must respect rules of international law even as nations respect international opinion. The comity of nations requires that rules of international law may be accommodated in the municipal law even through express legislative sanction provided they do not run into the conflict with the act of parliament. The doctrine of incorporation also recognizes the position that the rules of international law are incorporated into the national law and considered being under an obligation within legitimate limits, to so interpret the municipal status as to avoid confrontation with the comity of nations or the well established principles of international law.
Further in PUCL vs. Union of India this court while dealing with the applicability of the International Convenants on Civil and Political Rights 1966 held that “for it present it would suffice to state that the provisions of the convenants and which elucidate and go to effectuate the fundamentals rights guaranteed by our constitution, can certainly be relied upon by court as facets of those fundamental rights and hence enforceable as such”
In CERC vs. Union of India this court directed that the rules framed by the international labour organization for safety for the use of asbestos shall be binding in the convention and all industries in the country. This was also on the principle that International conventions can be read into domestic law. The WCD (World Commission on Dam) also relies upon international convention such as ILO 107 and ILO 169, the former of which has been ratified and is binding on India. Clearly on the basis of settled principles, these international declarations, treaties and charter can and would guide the elucidation of the domestic law in the country, in particular the fundamental rights.
Sub:Fear of Internal Displacement of Dalit, Tribal and Muslim Minority in Sonbhadra of India
I want to bring in your kind attention on 15th January, 2011 at 2 pm the villagers of Sundari gathered in front of the primary school, of Sundari of Sonbhadra in UP against the construction of the dam in the open meeting called by the current village head Mr. Ram Vichar. When again the inauguration of foundation stone of Kanhar Dam by the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Ms. Mayawati on 15th January, 2011 on her birthday. In the meeting they discussed the issue and decided the future course of action.
• Villagers oppose the construction of the big dam at kanahar but are in the favour of construction of the small dam for the irrigation through the lift cannel.
• They also decided to hold foot-march from Dudhi tehsil to Robersganj district head quarter by five thousand tribal and cover 100 km starting from March 10th – 15th, 2011.
I am informed that earlier the foundation stone of the Kanhar Dam was laid in 1976 by the Chief Minister of U.P, Mr. N.D. Tiwari. The proposed Kanhar Dam is located at Amawar village of Dudhi Tehsil in Sonbhadra district of Uttar Pradesh. if Kanhar dam would have been built on Kanhar River, a tributary of the Sone River, west of North Koel and east of Rihand tributaries would have wreaked havoc in Sonebhadra district (Uttar Pradesh), Sarguja District (Chhattisgarh) and Garhwa district (Jharkhand). After completion it would have submerged an area of 3000 hectares. It would have been expected to irrigate 25772 hectares of land in district Sonebhadra and 8,000 hectares in adjoining districts of Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh. The dam would have displaced over 7,500 families from 25 villages from their ancestral land and homes in Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.
I am also informed that fourteen villages of Sonebhadra district faced submergence so the tribals living in these villages decided to stall the project and then, they approached Maheshanand of Gram Swarajya Samiti (GSS) for guidance. GSS, which had been working in Dudhi and other blocks of Sonebhadra district since 1984, helped in garnering support and 'Kanhar Bachao Andolan' was formed on 23rd March 2002. Since the formation of Kanhar Bacho Andolan, every year on 23rd March tribals, women and activists gather at the construction site of the proposed project for continuing the struggle and taking to its logical culmination.
Therefore it is kind request please consider the demands of the villagers from Sunadari to oppose the construction of the big dam at Kanahar but are in the favour of construction of the small dam for the irrigation through the lift cannel. It is noted that big dam is responsible for international displacement and United nations(UN) mentioned the internal displacement persons as internal refugees.
Therefore it is kind request please immediately intervene in the case and take appropriate action at earliest.
PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:
1. Shri Pandhari Yadav
2. Ms. Mayawati
Chief Minister's Secretariat
Lucknow Uttar Pradesh INDIA
Fax: + 91 522 223 0002 / 223 9234.
3. Dr. Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister of India
Prime Minister Office
South Block, New Delhi -110001
Fax. No – 23016857, 23019545
National Human Rights Commission
Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg,
New Delhi, PIN 110001
Fax No. 23384863
E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
5. Shri Srikanta Panda
Director (IT), M/o Water Resources
421, Shram Shakti Bhawan
Rafi Marg, New Delhi -110001
6. Dr. Chaloka Beyani
Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Fax: + 41 22 917 9006
Urgent Appeal Desk (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Peoples' Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR)