NAPM fact-finding team faults Chintalapudi Lift Irrigation Scheme
- Notes gross violations in its execution
Amaravati: A fact-finding team of National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements (NAPM) and other organizations have found fault with the AP State government for gross violation of norms in executing the lift irrigation scheme on Godavari River.
The team visited villages in Jeelugumilli, T Narasapuram and Chintalapudi mandals of West Godavari district and interacted with the people for two days. The team said that the people of these three mandals were losing their lands in the new lift irrigation scheme and they were not paid the compensation as per the 2013 Land Acquisition Act.
The team, headed by NAPM convener Meera Sanghamitra, consisted of social activist Mortala Vimala, AP Vyavasaya Vruttidarula Union (APVVU) leader Babuji, freelance journalist Rahul Maganti and activist Ramu.
The Chintalapudi Lift Irrigation Project was initiated in 2008 with a capacity of 8 tmcft, and later expanded to 20 tmcft. The villages affected by this project including the canal system extend from several mandals like Jeelugumilli, Chintalapudi, T.Narsapuram and Buttayagudem in West Godavari district to several villages in the Mylavaram, Nuzvid and Tiruvur constituencies of Krishna district.
In about 127 villages, 11,200 acres of revenue land and 6,600 acres of forest land are set to be submerged and 16 adivasi villages are being displaced. In all, 70,000 people are losing their livelihood entirely or partially – including land-owning farmers, landless labourers, tenant farmers and people engaged in other rural occupations. In addition to the problems being faced by the people due to the large-scale displacement, there are also severe environmental impacts generated by this project, the fact finding team said.
While the government is stating that it is acquiring land under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act (2013), it is violating the rights created by the Act for all the project-displaced and project-affected people, the team members alleged.
The team after the personal inspection found that the most important provisions of the 2013 Act, the Social Impact Assessment (SIA) has not been done. The government is proceeding without an authenticated documentation of all the families affected by the project and the nature of impact.
It further alleged that no public hearing has been conducted on the project, no gram sabhas have been conducted in the affected villages, and the local bodies such as panchayats have not been consulted.
The objections and opinions expressed by the affected villagers have not been considered or responded to, the team said and added that no environmental clearance has been received for the project, yet the government is proceeding. The Rehabilitation and Resettlement Plan, as per the requirements of the Act, has not been published and made public for any village, which is a clear violation of the 2013 Act. The team further said that the claims of adivasis to their cultivation rights over forest lands, under the Forest Rights Act 2006 have not been settled, but the government is proceeding with acquiring the forest lands.
Assigned lands are not being treated on par with private patta land, as required by the 2013 Act. Though the Act clearly establishes their rights as land owners, the government is at best negotiating with assigned land holders offering ex gratia payment.
The Land-for-Land provisions specified by the Act for irrigation projects are not being followed. Land for land has not been allocated to any family, including SC and ST families who have special provisions under the Act.
The team also found that the government had violated several laws in planning the lift irrigation scheme. The laws included Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act (2013), 1/70 Act or Scheduled Areas Land Transfer Regulation Act (1970), Recognition of Forest Rights Act, 2006, PESA Act or Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 and Environmental Protection Act, 1986, the team said and wondered how the government can go against the laws.
The fact finding team asked the government to ensure that Social Impact Assessment is conducted for the entire project in an independent and transparent manner, the full details of the scheme be made available to the people, a comprehensive relief and rehabilitation package for the affected people and payment of full market value for the lands that the people are forced to lose for the scheme.