NHRC special rapporteur meets Odisha project-hit

After the National Human Rights Commission took note of the alleged human rights violation of the people displaced by the Kanupur Irrigation Project in Odisha’s Keonjhar district, Special Rapporteur Bibhuti Bhushan Mishra has been at the site for the past three days assessing the ground realities.

Mr. Mishra interacted with the villagers of Chamakpur, Kandara and Birikala gram panchayats under the Champua subdivision, asking them about the monetary compensation provided to them for the loss of land and houses. He is scheduled to meet Keonjhar district administration officials on Wednesday to solicit their views.

Human rights lawyer Radhakanta Tripathy had moved the NHRC highlighting the plight of the displaced villagers.

The KIP, envisaged under the integrated development of the Baitarani river, is expected to irrigate 47,709 hectares of land, benefiting farmers of Champua, Jhumpura, Joda, Patna and Keonjhar blocks of the district.

People to be displaced

An area of 1,787 hectares of cultivable land and 172 hectares of forestland will be submerged by the project. An estimated 3,577 people of 16 villages are facing displacement.

“The rehabilitation and resettlement process that has been going on for more than a decade is still incomplete. Those who have stayed back in their villages are deprived of basic government welfare schemes,” alleged Mr. Tripathy.

Due to non-payment of compensation, the villagers have staged several agitations.

Mr. Mishra has been asked to recommend measures for the protection of human rights of the affected people.

While the district administration says that outstanding issues pertaining to 185 families remain to be settled, the core committee of displaced people’s forum claimed that the number was more than 500.

As per the direction of the NHRC, the Revenue Divisional Commissioner (North), Sambalpur, is also conducting a separate inquiry about the status of rehabilitation and resettlement of people being displaced by the project.

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