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A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission


September 1, 2011

INDIA: Report on Sardar Sarovar Dam Project affected villages in Alirajpur district, Madhya Pradesh released

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) wishes to introduce you to the latest report released by our partner organisation, Vikas Samvad, based in Bophal, Madhya Pradesh on the Sardar Sarovar Dam Project affected villages in Alirajpur district of Madhya Pradesh. The report is titled: Valley of food insecurity and chronic hunger : Field status of government programmes under the Sardar Sarovar Dam Project affected villages in Alirajpur district of Madhya Pradesh state, India:

The report is co-authored by Mr Sachin Jain, Supreme Court's State Advisor to the Right to Food Commissioners' Office; Ms Rolly Shivhare, Mr Madhukar and Mr Soumitra Roy, researchers associated to Vikas Samvad.

Executive Summary:

Food insecurity has become the reality of life for the people living in Anjanwaada of Alirajpur District of Madhya Pradesh. It is one of 15 villages that are affected in Alirajpur by the submergence of Sardar Sarovar Dam Project (SSP). The only way to reach this community is by a boat from Kakrana. SSP is one of the five largest and controversial dam construction projects in India. According to the government figures 193 villages of Madhya Pradesh will be submerged when SSP is at its full height of 138.68 metres. Out of the 193 displaced villages, 15 villages are from the Alirajpur District.

In Anjanwada the people are dependent upon government schemes since the submergence of their land. Now they do not have any livelihood options other than those provided by the government schemes. However these schemes are not implemented in the village due to which, the families today face hunger and malnutrition.

Mr Khajan Singh who lives in the village claims that, a single-crop in their land would feed them for at least two years. He says: " … it has been 15 years since our land went under the water. We did not get any compensation for the animals, land, and trees that we lost."

Income from land was the only means of survival for these villagers. Today they do not have lost it and are forced to migrate to other places for survival. Mr Dhaniya Patel, an elderly man from the village says: " … the government thinks that we are enjoying ourselves out here. It is for you to see whether we are enjoying ourselves or starving. The supply through the PDS has been irregular in the village since submergence. The villagers can afford to eat only once a day so as to save food and make it the food grains last longer."

The purpose of the visit to the village was to monitor the implementation of the Supreme Court's order concerning government-sponsored food schemes. The Court has repeatedly expressed anguish of malnutrition and hunger in the country. The Court has issued about 80 interim orders directing the government the proper implementation of government schemes like the ICDS, MDM, PDS, and NREGA. To monitor the implementation of its orders, the Supreme Court has appointed two Commissioners at the national level and advisors to the Commissioners at the state. Mr Sachin Jain is the state advisor from Madhya Pradesh.

The visit to Alirajpur confirmed that the people still live in the villages affected by the SSP, even though they have lost all means of livelihood to the project. This has resulted in a situation of acute food insecurity in the villages. Contrary to this, the state administration in its report claims that the residents affected by the project have been compensated. The government report also claims that the residents living in the village are living there since they are against the project. This argument though does not make any sense in itself. In fact those living in the villages are provided no compensation or have received anything from the government. Since they have no place else to go, they continue living there. The rehabilitation process has proved to be replete with flaws in planning and implementation. Despite this, the residents of the village still expect the government to support them.

Schemes like the PDS, ICDS, MDM, and NREGA are completely dysfunctional in the villages. Evidences of widespread and unchecked corruption in the implementation of the schemes writ large upon the face of the people living in the villages. The food rations distributed at the moment are sufficient for no more than 8 months of an year. The villagers find no other means other than saving from the paltry rations to stretch it to survive for an year. For this they have no other means other than living in hunger. The government has issued any Below Poverty Line (BPL) cards to those who disserve it in the village. Without the BPL cards the villagers are unable to utilise the full potential of the PDS, to the extent it is available in the village.

According to the report the situation of women and children are the worst. There is one Anganwadi Centre in the village, but most of it remains in paper and government records and reports. The Integrated Child Development Scheme is hardly implemented in the village. The children are denied supplementary nutrition and their growth not monitored by anyone. Services to be provided through the ICDS are literally nonexistent in the villages of the district. Similarly the pregnant and lactating women are also deprived the benefits due through the ICDS. The visit of Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM) and other health workers is irregular and complete immunisation has not happened in the villages. Due to this prenatal check up of women has not been conducted in the villages. In the case of any medical emergency, the women will have to travel to Kakrana SHC, which is 12 kms from the village. It takes about two hours to traverse these 12 kms. The people have to spend more to hire a private transport, as there is no public transport facility available to them.

Most of the benefits from the government-sponsored welfare schemes are denied to the women. So far there were only two institutional deliveries in the village. There are no transport linkages to the villages, which in the case of emergency, creates disastrous situations. There is not a single doctor available in any of the villages affected by the SSP in the district. The visit of a health supervisor is highly irregular. The villagers stay close to stagnant water. Due to this recurrence of water borne diseases infecting the villagers are high, which the residents say was not the case when the river flowed freely.

There are 27 families in Anjanwaada who do not have job cards. They applied for it many times but to no avail. With no job card, they are unable to find work through the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural employment Guarantee scheme. For those who found jobs some how, the payment of wages in many cases are pending since long. There are also cases in which the villagers have worked on a job in the village, but no entry made in their job cards.

This report raises questions related to food security of the tribal communities. The report speaks about the life of the communities affected by the SSP. It also speaks about the carelessness attitude of the government concerning the rights of some of the most marginalised people of India and how organised corruption within the government make life extremely difficult to this hapless people.

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About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.



ENDS

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