The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has directed to the Chief Secretary of Odisha to take appropriate measures to compensate, rehabilitate and resettle land oustees in various projects in Koraput district. The direction came in response to a petition filed by rights activist and Supreme Court lawyer Radhakanta Tripathy. In his petition, Tripathy mentioned that, Koraput district is worst affected in the country as more than 50 per cent of the district is affected due to various projects like Machhkund , Nalco, HAL, UKHEP and Kolab, executed in the district causing large scale internal displacement andconsequent problems.
The displaced masses basically are deprived of land rights, Tripathyalleged. Most of the victims belong to poor ST and SC communities.
Aproper survey has not been conducted by the Government, citing pettyreasons like lack of staff. Thousands of victims suffer due to lack of livelihood and bare necessities of life which has been creating serious human rights problems and forcing them to die without remedies.
At times the victims are denied caste certificates or issued ambiguous certificates to the victims, Tripathy said. In pursuant to the complaint, the District Magistrate of Koraput informed the commission that, many steps were taken for rehabilitation of the persons displaced due to Machhkund project, Nalco, HAL, Sunabeda and UKHEP, Kolab project. However, challenging the report, Tripathy stated it as contrary to the ground realities.
Considering the gravity of the issue, the NHRC directed to investigate the issues through its Special Rapporteur so as to know the ground realities and steps taken by State functionaries to address the grievances so far.
Tripathy requested the NHRC to verify the MoUs signed by the HAL and Nalco with the Government of Odisha and the real implementation status in terms of human rights, RoR, rehabilitation, livelihood and details of RPDAC meetings. The petition also urged the NHRC to ensure potable drinking water, right to food under NFSA, primary education and healthcare facilities in the area and time bound implementation of the recommendation of the Commission with tangible impact and submit the details with documentary evidence before the Commission on quarterly basis.
The Commission asked the Special Rapporteur of Eastern Zone Dr Vinod Agrawal to inquire the matter thoroughly and submit the report to the Commission within 8 weeks.
However, due to the Corona pandemic the investigation could not take place. Finally the Commission directed the Chief Secretary to look into the grievances of the projects-affected persons sincerely and take appropriate remedial action as soon as possible.