Orissa s draft rehabilitation and resettlement policy

the Orissa government has drawn up a new comprehensive draft policy on rehabilitation and resettlement (r & r) to address the increasing anger of the state's rural and tribal people over being displaced by industries setting up shop on their land.

Though the policy promises several additional sops for displaced families, tribal leaders and land rights activists have trashed the draft as a mere "public relations exercise' of the government. A five-member ministerial committee, which was set up just four days after the January 2, 2006, Kalinga Nagar police firing, had finalised the draft.

The state cabinet approved it on April 22 and it will be tabled at the next assembly session.

The draft suggests some changes in the earlier r&r policy that was more industry specific. The new policy is largely based on a 2005 document drafted with the help of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization and uk 's Department for International Development. The draft has various components to separately deal with displacement caused due to industrial and mining projects; irrigation projects, national park and sanctuaries; linear projects like roads and railways.

Moreover, it proposes to make displaced people the stakeholders in the industry that displaces them, by giving them 50 per cent of the compensation money in the company scrip. While it bars "physical displacement' before the "actual rehabilitation' is complete, it has also increased the compensation amount to Rs 1.5 lakh from Rs 37,500 per acre (0.4 hectare).

The draft, however, fails to ensure any employment guarantee to the displaced; it carries just a stipulation that the industries give job "preference' at least to one nominated member of each affected family. It remains silent about the government's role in cases where people don't want to be displaced by the industrial projects.

Besides, the document indicates that the state government will gradually withdraw from the land acquisition process and act merely as a facilitator. But critics point out that allowing private companies to directly acquire land could be dangerous. As it stands, the new policy doesn't seem to have put a brake on growing anti-land acquisition movements across the state.

"What we actually want is no more industries should come in,' says Chakradhar Haibru (Jr) of the Visthapan Virodhi Janmancha, which has been spearheading the Kalinga Nagar anti-displacement movement.

Protesters have blocked a 4-km stretch of the Daitari-Paradip express highway