A National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) letter to the National Human Rights Commission chairman on submergence of six villages in Kondapur Mandal of YSR Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh (AP) by waters of Gandikota Reservoir without due process of law and rehabilitation, as per the Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation Act, 2013 and AP (AP) Rehabilitation Policy, 2005 raises serious questions of accountability:
This concerns the release of Krishna waters from Srisailam Reservoir Right Bank Canal System into Pydipalem reservoir to provide irrigation water to Pulivendula in YSR Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh. In the process, Gandikota reservoir is being filled up. The backwaters of 5 TMC Gandikota reservoir will be flooding 6 villages immediately and 22 villages eventually. 1500 cusecs of water is being released every day and at the time of writing this memorandum, 4.2 TMC of water is released into the reservoir. 6 villages are being submerged, some of them partially and some of them completely. People are left with no food and no drinking water.
They are forced to sleep outside in the cold winters for the fear that their houses might collapse anytime. After the villagers protested for days together blocking roads and taking part in peaceful dharnas, the Govt. arranged drinking water to the affected villages and provided tractors for the transport. However, the water being supplied is highly inadequate and the villagers are forced to drink the water being released to the reservoir.
In Choutupally, one of the submergence villages, where the acquisition process took place almost 3 decades ago, government primary school, Anganwadi, Primary health sub-center which have been functional till December are coming under submergence and are shut down without making any proper alternative arrangements. As a result more than 100 children had to discontinue their education.
Pregnant and lactating mothers, children below six years of age are denied nutritional food and essential medical services, as mandated by the Orders of the Supreme Court and the National Food Security Act, 2013. Though technically the school has been ‘shifted’ to R&R colony, the students are not in a position to attend the school as it is 6 kms from the village and their families do not have any shelter or house in the R&R colony to shift. This is gross violation of their fundamental rights and Human rights. This needs urgent attention and direction from the Commission.
The Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Sri N. Chandrababu Naidu’s decision to open the reservoir and release 5 TMC of water will only aggravate the present situation and more villages will be flooded. The Govt. is using this strategy to create fear amongst the affected and displaced people that water will be released at any cost and they have to move out. We submit that these actions of the state Govt. are a gross violation of the numerous directives of the Supreme Court which uphold that the right to prior rehabilitation, with better standard of living is part of the fundamental right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution and any submergence prior to R&R is prima facie unlawful.
The ground reality is that many of the oustees are yet to receive land rights, compensation and rehabilitation benefits guaranteed to them by law and government policies. Even the houses are not completed in the R&R colonies and most of the designated project displaced families are not yet sanctioned or allotted houses and the current houses in R&R colony are highly inadequate and non-livable.
We would also like this Hon’ble Commission to note that in many villages the lands and/or houses were acquired prior to 2009, but oustees remain in possession of the same till date, with various govt. services and, therefore, as per provisions of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 passed by the Parliament of India, the erstwhile land acquisition has lapsed in the eyes of law as on 1/1/2014, the ‘oustees’ have actually become lawful owners of their acquired properties and if at all the Govt. has to evict/displace/ submerge the same, it has to freshly initiate the whole land acquisition and R&R process as per the 2013 Act.
Thus, non-compliance with due process of law and violation the very right to life and safety of thousands of people displays a total lack of sensitivity, which is nothing short of criminal. We condemn this kind of authoritarian and repressive approach on the part of a democratically elected Government. We believe this is a serious human rights violation on the part of Govt. of Andhra Pradesh and therefore request this Hon’ble Commission to direct the state government to take following steps urgently.
- Water has been released into the villages without prior announcements. This shows the utter lack of humanity on the part of the Government. Any further release of water and inundation of villages shall be stopped forthwith, as submergence of villages and forceful displacement of the people without providing lawful rehabilitation and effective and alternative arrangements for their basic necessities like shelter, water, food and basic services like education, health, sanitation etc., is gross violation of their human rights, apart from their fundamental rights guaranteed under Constitution and orders of the Supreme Court.
- Make an immediate village-wise fair assessment of the previous land acquisition process in the light of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, since, as per our information, the possession of the lands/houses have not been taken till date and rehabilitation and resettlement of most of the project affected families is not completed in all its respects, though lands / house were acquired several years ago. In all cases where the erstwhile land acquisition has lapsed as per 2013 Act, State must recognize the ownership rights of the people. Thereafter, if the State requires these properties for the Gandikota Reservoir, the same must be acquired only by freshly initiating the whole land acquisition process and ensuring disbursement of compensation and rehabilitation of the project affected and displaced families as per the 2013 Act Acting contra will be violation of the said Act 30 of 2013.
- Two acres of promised land to all the Project Displaced Families (PDFs) should be distributed immediately within a specified time frame, as all the PDFs are dependent upon agriculture and allied activities. Government should also take steps to provide alternative employment / livelihood opportunities near R&R colonies. The Government should also provide loans for people dependent on cattle rearing and dairy industry. The Govt. of AP must fully comply with all the provisions of the LAQ and R&R Act, 2013, AP R&R Policy, 2005 and subsequent directives to ensure proper rehabilitation.
- The villagers of Chowtupalli were promised a special package of 1 lakh rupees in September 2015. The latest GO brought out on the 4th of January cancels this out on dubious conditions, as the people of Chowtupalli were at the forefront of the struggle. Government should take back this particular part of the GO and conform to all the promises made to the people earlier. We are also of the opinion that the very reason for announcement of this package, is an official acknowledgement of their rights per the 2013 Act. But the compensation of Rs. 1 lakh is not only meager, it is also an attempt to scuttle the recognition and implementation of the rights as per 2013 Act.
- Provide immediate interim relief and compensation to all families whose properties have been submerged / affected in violation of the 2013 Act and AP R&R Policy.
- Refrain from using any kind of coercive, intimidatory and misleading methods to evict/submerge or acquire lands and houses or threaten people to relocate, without ensuing full compliance of law.
- Initiate necessary steps as per the mandate of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, including constitution and operationalization of District Disaster Management Committee, dist. plans and necessary steps for rescue and relief.
We also request this Hon’ble Commission and the State Human Rights Commission to visit the affected areas to obtain first hand information of the serious issues of gross human rights violations to enable quick and appropriate action as per law.
Signatories to the letter:
Medha Patkar, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) and National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM)
Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey and Shankar Singh, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS)
Prafulla Samantara, Lok Shakti Abhiyan
Lingraj Azad – Samajwadi Jan Parishad – Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti, Odisha
Binayak Sen and Kavita Srivastava, People’s Union for Civil Liberties
Sandeep Pandey, Socialist Party, Uttar Pradesh
Sudhir Vombatkere, Senior Activist, NAPM, Karnataka
Gabriele Dietrich, Penn Urimay Iyakkam, Madurai and NAPM, TN
Geetha Ramakrishnan, Unorganised Sector Workers’ Federation, TN
Arul Doss, NAPM, Tamil Nadu
Arundhati Dhuru, Nandlal Master, Manesh Gupta, NAPM, UP
Richa Singh, Sangatin Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan, NAPM-UP
Vilayodi Venugopal, CR Neelakandan and Prof. Kusumam NAPM, Kerala
Vimal Bhai, Matu Jan Sangathan, Uttarakhand
Jabar Singh, NAPM, Uttarakhand
Sister Celia, Domestic Workers Union, Karnataka
Rukmini V P, Garment Labour Union, Karnataka
Anand Mazgaonkar, Krishnakant, Paryavaran Suraksh Samiti, Gujarat
Kamayani Swami, Ashish Ranjan, Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan, Bihar
Mahendra Yadav – Kosi Navnirman Manch, NAPM Bihar
Sister Dorothy, NAPM Bihar
Dayamani Barla, Aadivasi-Moolnivasi Astivtva Raksha Samiti, Jharkhand
Dr. Sunilam and Adv. Aradhna Bhargava – Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, Madhya Pradesh
Bhupender Singh Rawat – Jan Sangharsh Vahini, Delhi
Rajendra Ravi, Nanu Prasad, Madhuresh Kumar, Amit Kumar, Himnshi Singh, Uma Kapari, Zaved Mazumder, NAPM, Delhi
Faisal Khan, Khudai Khidmatgar, Haryana
J S Walia, NAPM Haryana
Kailash Meena, NAPM, Rajasthan
Amitava Mitra & Avik Saha, NAPM West Bengal
P. Chennaiah, Andhra Prdaesh Vyavasaya Vruttidarulua Union (APVVU), AP
Ramakrishnam Raju, United Forum for RTI, AP
Suniti SR, Suhas Kolhekar, Prasad Bagwe, NAPM, Maharashtra
Gautam Bandopadhyay, NAPM, Chhatisgarh
Anjali Bharadwaj, National Campaign for People’s Right to Information
Kaladas Dahariya, RELAA, Chhatisgarh
Bilal Khan, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan, Mumbai,
Jeevan Kumar And Jayasree Kakumani, Human Rights Forum, Telangana-AP
Vissa Kiran Kumar, Rythu Swarajya Vedika, Telangana-AP
Vimala Morthala, Independent Writer, Activist, Hyderabad
Usha Seethalaksmi, Independent Researcher
Adv. Ravi, High Court of Telangana and AP
P. Shankar, Dalit Bahujana Front, Telanagna
Adv. MA Shakeel, Centre for Study of Constitution and Society, Hyderabad Telangana.
S.Q. Masood, Centre for Peace Studies, Hyderabad Telangana.
Meera Sanghamitra, NAPM Telangana-AP
Rahul Maganti, Independent Journalist, Vijayawada
Gutta Rohit, Human Rights Activist
And many other people’s organizations in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana