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Polavaram Conundrum – Richard Mohapatra జూలై 19, 2011

Posted by M Bharath Bhushan in Andhrapreneurship, Bhadrachalam, BJP, Congress, corruption, Godavari, Identity, Koya, livelihoods, Polavaram, TDP, TRS, Uttara Andhra.
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“People living in the Polavaram dam’s submergence zone have another strong legal protection besides FRA, which can be used to demand scrapping of Polavaram dam. All the villages are governed by the powerful Panchayat (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA) of 1996. Under this Act, no project can be initiated in a Schedule Five area without the consent of the gram sabhas there. What’s more, no land can be acquired without the consent of the gram sabhas”.

Deccan Herald July 19, 2011

Polavaram Conundrum
Richard Mohapatra

Fear of submergence haunts Kurturu, a village nestled in the Papi hills of the Eastern Ghats in Andhra Pradesh

In 2005, a band of officials, an unusual sight in this remote village in West Godavari district, visited the place and marked a rock. Then they broke the news about the Polavaram multi-purpose project on the river Godavari that would submerge Kurturu along with 275 other villages.

The words “FRL 150 feet” are inscribed on the rock face, which mean submergence at full reservoir level of 150 feet (45.72 metres); it indicates the level to which the river will rise once the Polavaram dam is constructed. The rock is at a much higher level than the 1986 flood level. Kurturu residents have vivid memories of the flood—the worst by far, when the Godavari rose by over 45 metres and submerged the village. The residents, belonging to the Konda Reddy tribe, point at trees on the hill to indicate the flood level.

The flood lasted just two days. The dam will submerge the village forever. Even in summer, when the river’s flow is relatively low, the village will be submerged 18 metres under water, informs Rajakrishna Reddy, a resident of Kurturu. The Polavaram dam, an earth and rock-filled structure, will displace the largest number of people in India’s history of such projects.

“For every five acres (2.02 hectares) that will be irrigated by the project, one tribal family will be displaced,” says E A S Sarma, former power secretary, who has been tracking the project. The dam’s backwaters will submerge 3,731 hectares (ha) of forestland; its net present value, assessed at Rs 13 lakh per 0.4 ha, would add up to Rs 1,120 crore. Kurturu’s residents have been waging a desperate battle to stay afloat. In 2008, they came to know about the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, popularly called Forest Rights Act (FRA). (మరింత…)

Tasks for Kishore Chandra Deo, Tribal Minister జూలై 16, 2011

Posted by M Bharath Bhushan in Bhadrachalam, conflict resolution, Culture, displacement, Godavari, heritage, Hyderabad, Koya, livelihoods, Polavaram, Vishakapatnam.
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Among the projects taken up in post-Independent India, Polavaram is perhaps the largest single project that has disrupted the lives of the tribals most. The environment clearance given for Polavaram is not valid as it stands today, as there have been fundamental changes in the design of the project. The Ministry of Tribal Affairs should take the initiative in correcting these statutory violations, if necessary, by approaching the Supreme Court, even at this belated stage. The proposal of Andhra Pradesh to seek ‘national’ status for the current project proposal is merely a ploy to cover up its illegalities. In its current design, the project benefits a few chosen politician-cum-contractors, certainly not the public.

OPINION, Tehelka 16 July 2011

Tasks for the new tribal minister
EAS Sarma

Kishore Chandra Deo has had a long career in Parliament. Here’s a doable and basic manifesto for him as the new minister of tribal affairs

THE RECENT union cabinet reshuffle has its plus points as well as minus ones. One important introduction to the cabinet is that of Kishore Chandra Deo, a senior member of parliament representing the tribal legislators and a person who has been in close touch with the ground reality of the tribal constituency in the Visakhapatnam area he represents. Deo has been at the forefront of cautioning his party on the hasty manner in which industrial projects are being grounded in tribal areas without adequate consultation with the tribals. Now that he has occupied the position of a minister, there are high expectations that he will translate his statements into tangible policy initiatives. What are the challenges that lie before him?

Of course, in general terms, as the Minister incharge of both tribal affairs and panchayati raj, he should take initiatives that will further the interests of the tribals in terms of their constitutional entitlements and, simultaneously, empower the grassroots- level constitutional bodies like gram sabhas, panchayats and tribal advisory councils, especially in terms of enforcement of the PESA (Panchayats Extension to Scheduled Areas). (మరింత…)