2 million in Gujarat displaced due to development projects: study

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FIGURE THIS: Vadodara-based Centre for Culture and Development lists displacements in Gujarat right from 1947 to 2004

Ayesha Khan

Vadodara, March 12: EVEN as a national debate rages on the rehabilitation package for Special Economic Zones (SEZs), a study by the Vadodara-based Centre for Culture and Development (CCD), is a stark reminder of the toll taken by displacements due to development projects. The study details all displacements in Gujarat from 1947 to 2004, including the ever-debatable Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP), and says around 2 million people, a neat five percent of state’s population, were displaced as 32 lakh hectares of land was used up for development projects in all these years.

The study, also carried out in Orissa, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Kerala, took two years to be completed in Gujarat. Lancy Lobo, sociologist and CCD director, said that the study becomes all the more necessary, as the country is still debating a National Rehabilitation Policy that has yet to see the light of day. Also, experts feel that with SSP hogging the limelight in Gujarat, equal focus is needed on the impact of other development projects, for industries, mines, sanctuaries, or even roads and transport systems, which have induced displacement.

The report, which was prepared after studying the state gazetteer, revenue records, using the Right to Information (RTI) Act and also carrying out field studies across the state to survey the condition of those displaced, will now be released.

According to the report, the land acquisition in Gujarat has been divided into four phases; first from 1947 till 1960, secondly during 1961-1980 where the focus was agriculture, industrial development and urbanisation, the ’80s decades witnessed agriculture bearing the brunt of development works, and from 1992-2004, the focus was again on agriculture through SSP, and industry through SEZs. And of the total land acquired, 61 per cent has been used for big and medium dams, 23 per cent for transport and communications, six per cent for industries, four per cent for urban development and a miniscule 2 per cent for human resources.

Interestingly, the study reports that it is after 1990 that the state witnessed a larger transition of cultivable lands for non-agricultural uses. The highest increase in land compensation in South Gujarat, along the national highway, was recorded during this period. But the per capita receipt in the region has declined, suggesting a greater displacement of the people in the wake of the industrialisation of the districts, i.e. Navsari and Valsad, affecting the tribals the most. At the same time, the highest compensation was recorded in Jamnagar for land acquired by the state government on behalf of industrial giants Reliance Industries Limited and Essar Limited. Land values also rose in other districts of Saurashtra and Kutch, like Bhavnagar and Rajkot, due to the quick development of the industries along the coasts and the State highway.

The quantum of acquisition has remained higher in backward districts, mostly due to cheap and easy availability of land. “This has resulted in trends such as the government acquiring more than 35 per cent of the geographical area in Narmada and Bharuch districts,” observed the report. “People have been neglected in the name of development and national interest. It is not just the economic cost, but social and cultural deprivation, which has to be addressed,” said Lobo.

Maximum displacements are from Central Gujarat
NEARLY 2.5 million persons in Gujarat, i.e., five percent of the total population of the state are affected or displaced. Sixty per cent of this figure is due to water-related projects, 23 per cent due to transport and communication systems; and 7 per cent is due to industries. Forty per cent of the 18,700 villages of Gujarat are affected, some partially and others totally.

About 4,32,636 families in Gujarat have been displaced so far due to various development projects. And the regional share of displaced families comes to 20.23 per cent in North Gujarat, 38:42 % in Central Gujarat, 32:30 % in South Gujarat and 10:5 % in Saurashtra and Kutch.

Source: Centre for Culture and Development, Vadodara

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