SEZ, port expansion perils Andhra's tribal people

an international fact-finding mission, which visited Andhra Pradesh's Nellore district recently, has expressed concern over the displacement and loss of livelihoods of tribal communities due to construction of special economic zones in the district and expansion of the Krishnapatnam port.

The mission comprised civil society representatives from Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines and India. After visiting several tribal villages in the district, the mission said that people in at least 14 villages were threatened with loss of livelihood due to expansion of the Krishnapatnam port; four villages are at the risk of imminent eviction.

Residents of these villages, who hold no land title, largely depend on fishing in backwater and sea for their survival.

However, the relocation site proposed by the government is far away from the backwater and sea, which means undermining their livelihoods, said the team. It also said that since expansion of the port will be highly mechanized, it will hardly create any employment opportunities for local people and, on the other hand, will result in large-scale pollution of the surrounding environment.

After visiting Tada mandal, the team observed that setting up of sezs in the tribal-dominated area has barred people of 12 villages from accessing nearby grazing fields and water bodies. This is leading to "chronic hunger and malnutrition' in the area, said the team in its observation.

In its submission to the Andhra Pradesh government, the team has demanded that the government should stop violation of the "right to food' and restore the "right to common property resources' of the people, while extending relief and rehabilitation to them.