Displaced families have expressed dissatisfaction over lack of amenities and incomplete construction at the resettlement colonies.

Polavaram project oustees evacuating their localities amid fear Image: Juvvala Babjee
news Displacement Monday, July 19, 2021 - 09:41

Amid the ongoing rehabilitation of families displaced by the Polavaram irrigation project in Andhra Pradesh, several discrepancies have been reported regarding delayed construction work, poor quality of construction and inadequate amenities in the R&R (rehabilitation and resettlement) colonies. Officials are currently in the process of shifting people from the submergence area habitations of the 41-metre level contour of the project, even as construction work is yet to be completed in some of the R&R colonies. Leaders from various opposition parties visited the Godavari districts on Friday, July 16, to meet displaced families and hear their grievances. 

After touring the Krishnunipalem colony in Gokavaram mandal of East Godavari, the all-party team said that several displaced families were forced to live in makeshift houses on hilltops or with relatives. Families who had shifted to the colonies were facing issues like rainwater seepage and waterlogging, and basic amenities like drinking water and sanitation were missing, they said. CPI State Secretary K Ramakrishna called for statewide protests in the coming days to call the state government’s attention to the complaints. A day before Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy’s visit to the Polavaram project on Monday, July 19, to review the progress of construction work, TDP leader Devineni Uma Maheswara Rao demanded that the CM should also meet with the displaced tribal families and hear their grievances. 

As per several reports over the past few days, several displaced families have complained that they have been forced to relocate to colonies where construction is yet to be completed, or the construction has been alleged to be of poor quality, with rainwater seeping into the houses. In some cases, complaints have emerged of basic amenities lacking. Speaking to TNM, a project displaced person from Devipatnam mandal said that most of the 11 R&R colonies located in Rampachodavaram agency (Integrated Tribal Development Agency or ITDA) are yet to receive amenities like proper roads, streetlights, burial ground, community hall etc.  

“Even basic facilities like drinking water, running water and toilets are not available in many colonies. People would prefer to shift only once construction is completed, but with their villages inundated, they are forced to move there,” he said. Some of the colonies are in low-lying areas which the displaced families have been objecting to from the start, and are now unhappy with, he said. 

In some cases, including that of several families of Devipatnam village, he said that displaced families have only received the house pattas but construction is at a very early stage. This has forced some families to either move in with relatives or rent houses nearby or in some cases, set up makeshift tents on hilltops, he said. However, in such cases, officials have said that the R&R compensation amount includes the rent amount for a year, he added. 

Rampachodavaram ITDA Project Officer Praveen Aditya told TNM that a few grievances have been raised by people for whom the compensation amount hasn’t been credited yet. Citing discrepancies with their bank accounts and documents, the Project Officer said that the delayed compensation will be credited in two weeks. 

Following the all-party visit, CPI(M) state secretary P Madhu demanded that the YSRCP government provide aid for families who need to repair their houses in the R&R colonies, as well as the displaced families forced to live in temporary fixtures.  

In the Rampachodavaram agency area alone, there are around 44 villages in the submergence area of the Polavaram project. Of these, 10 villages pertaining to the headworks had previously been vacated, while families from the remaining villages are now being shifted to the 13 different R&R colonies where they have been allotted houses. These colonies are in different stages of completion and occupation. All the villages are expected to be vacated by the end of July. 

Rampachodavaram ITDA Project Officer Praveen Aditya said that officials carried out inspections in three colonies in the past week — Indukuru One, Indukuru Two and Krishnunipalem — which have been completely occupied by the families they were allotted to. Speaking about the complaints related to the poor construction quality and lack of amenities, the officer said that all the colonies have a defect liability period of nearly two years which is the responsibility of the construction agency (AP State Housing Corporation Ltd.) 

“In every colony, a committee has been set up, where we are maintaining registered grievances for every plot. If they are facing any issues with respect to water, seepage, sanitation etc. we are noting it down and getting it rectified,” he said. Referring to complaints of waterlogging due to drains overflowing, he said that in some cases, this was a result of the residents’ belongings clogging the drains. “In some parts, the incomplete drain works will be finished by the end of July,” he said. 

He added that water tankers are being arranged in colonies where the water supply line is yet to be set up. “People have been occupying the colonies in the last two to three weeks on a large scale. In some cases, the houses are yet to be completed, and construction work is going on in parallel after the house has been occupied,” he said, adding that grievances will be addressed within a fixed timeline. “There was a rainwater seepage issue because the slab plastering work wasn’t completed yet. We have instructed that such issues must be resolved at the earliest,” he stated.

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