The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes recommended that the Andhra Pradesh government address the inadequate amenities and defective construction in the resettlement colonies.

Houses in a Polavaram resettlement colony in Indukuru File Photo:
news Displacement Sunday, September 19, 2021 - 14:24

Following complaints about poor living conditions in the rehabilitation colonies, built for families displaced by the Polavaram irrigation project, the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) visited the colonies and found them lacking in basic amenities like roads, electricity, drinking water, sanitation and drainage systems. NCST member Ananta Naik visited project-affected families in the rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R) colonies in the East and West Godavari districts earlier in August, and stated in his report that the authorities implementing the R&R had shown “inaction” and “negligence”, the Times of India reported. The report was sent to the Chief Secretaries of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha, Secretary of Union Ministry of Jal Shakti and the Director of Polavaram Project Authority (PPA). 

In its report, the NCST observed that the “inaction and negligence of the state authorities is not only painful, but also violates the constitutional provisions meant for the safeguard and welfare measures of the tribal people". Earlier in July, as more families were shifted from submergence area villages to R&R colonies, several complaints arose regarding the poor quality of construction and inadequate amenities in the colonies. Displaced families complained about issues like rainwater seepage and waterlogging, and lack of basic amenities. 

The NCST report specified that colonies at Yerravaram, Pedabhimpalli and P Narayanapuram didn’t have proper roads, electricity, drinking water and drainage systems, while some houses were found to have leakages from the ceiling and cracked walls. Some houses even lacked proper ventilation in kitchens, while some houses in Mulapet didn’t have doors, the report said, according to The New Indian Express. 

It also noted that many displaced families complained that the land they had received was too far from their original habitations, and in some cases, not fit for cultivation. It observed that amenities mentioned in The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 are lacking in the R&R colonies, and suggested that the state government must ensure that tribal lifestyle, culture and knowledge systems are preserved and promoted. The NCST made recommendations to the Andhra Pradesh government to ensure all displaced families get fair compensation and the faults in construction are addressed and asked the Chief Secretary to submit a compliance report within four weeks. It also recommended that the Union government evaluate R&R works on a monthly basis. 

Also read: Displaced by Polavaram, families allege poor living conditions in resettlement colonies

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