Centre gives nod to new rehabilitation and resettlement policy

November 14th, 2007 - 2:02 am ICT by admin  
A Gazette Notification will be issued shortly to bring into effect the new Policy.

“The new policy and the associated legislative measures aim at striking a balance between the need for land for developmental activities and, at the same time, protecting the interests of the land owners, and others, such as the tenants, the landless, the agricultural and non-agricultural labourers, artisans, and others whose livelihood depends on the land involved, ” a government release said.

The benefits under the new Policy shall be available to all affected persons and families whose land, property or livelihood is adversely affected by land acquisition or by involuntary displacement of a permanent nature due to any other reason, such as natural calamities, it added.

The Cabinet has also decided to bring legislation on the lines of the new Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy, and to suitably amend the Land Acquisition Act, 1894.

The benefits to be offered under the new policy to the affected families include; land-for-land, preference for employment in the project to at least one person from each nuclear family, subject to the availability of vacancies and suitability of the affected person; training and capacity building for taking up suitable jobs and for self-employment; scholarships for education of the eligible persons from the affected families; preference to groups of cooperatives of the affected persons in the allotment of contracts and other economic opportunities in or around the project site; wage employment to the willing affected persons in the construction work in the project; housing benefits including houses to the landless affected families in both rural and urban areas; and other benefits.

Adequate provisions have also been made for financial support to the affected families for construction of cattle sheds, shops, and working sheds; transportation costs, temporary and transitional accommodation, and comprehensive infrastructural facilities and amenities in the resettlement area including education, health care, drinking water, roads, electricity, sanitation, religious activities, cattle grazing, and other community resources.

The benefits expressed in monetary terms have been linked to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), and the same shall also be revised suitably at appropriate intervals.

A special provision has been made for providing lifetime monthly pension to the vulnerable persons, such as the disabled, destitute, orphans, widows, unmarried girls, abandoned women, or persons above 50 years of age.

Special provision for the Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Scheduled Castes (SC) include preference in land-for-land for STs followed by SCs; a Tribal Development Plan which will also include a programme for development for alternate fuel which will also include a programme for development for alternate fuel and non-timber forest produce resources, consultations with the Gram Sabhas and the Tribal Advisory Councils, protection of fishing rights, land free-of-cost for community and religious gatherings, and continuation of reservation benefits in resettlement areas, among others.

A strong grievance redressal mechanism has been prescribed, which includes standing rehabilitation and resettlement (R and R) Committees at the district level, R and R Committees at the project level, and an Ombudsman duly empowered in this regard.

The R and R Committees shall have representatives from the affected families including women, voluntary organisations, Panchayats, local elected representatives and others.

Provision has also been made for post-implementation social audits of the rehabilitation and resettlement schemes and plans.

For effective monitoring of the progress of implementation of R and R plans, provisions have been made for a National Monitoring Committee, a National Monitoring Cell, mandatory information sharing by the States and Union Territories (UT) with the National Monitoring Cell, and Oversight Committees in the Ministries and Departments concerned for each major project.

For ensuring transparency, provision has been made for mandatory dissemination of information on displacement, rehabilitation and resettlement, with names of the affected persons and details of the rehabilitation packages. Such information shall be placed in the public domain on the Internet as well as shared with the concerned Gram Sabhas and Panchayats by the project authorities.

A National Rehabilitation Commission shall be set up by the Central Government, which will be duly empowered to exercise independent oversight over the rehabilitation and resettlement of the affected families.

Under the new Policy, no project involving displacement of families beyond defined thresholds can be undertaken without a detailed Social Impact Assessment (SIA), which among other things, shall also take into account the impact that the project will have on public and community properties, assets and infrastructure; and the concerned Government shall have to specify that the ameliorative measures for addressing the said impact, may not be less than what is provided under any scheme or programme of the Central or State Government in operation in the area.

The SIA report shall be examined by an independent multi-disciplinary expert group, which will also include social science and rehabilitation experts. Following the conditions of the SIA clearance shall be mandatory for all projects displacing people beyond the defined thresholds. (ANI)

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