Civil Society Forum on Human Rights

CSFHR e-Newsletter

Violations in News
NHRIs/SHRIs in News
Important Judgements/Orders
Case Updates
Meetings & Workshops
Fact-finding Reports
* Ordinance to amend the new Land Acquisition Act 2013 is undemocratic... Sandeep Kumar Pattnaik, NCAS
Editorial Team:

Dhirendra Panda
Adv.Chandranath Dani
Rizwana Akhtaree
Support and Coordination:
Prasanta Panda
Ranjit Sutar
Rashmi Ranjan Pattnaik
Contact Us:

VI-M-491, Sailashree Vihar, Bhubaneswar- 751021 Odisha, India

Email: csfhrindia@gmail.com
Phone: 0674-2741557
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Feedback from Readers

CSFHR extends its heartfelt condolence to cartoonist R.K Laxman who gave the common man a distinctive identity and status through his cartoons.  He will be remembered for his daily dose of humor through his cartoons which not only conveyed the pulse of a nation, but also delivered powerful messages on equality and social justice.

Our deep condolences and prayers for Prof. Rajni Kothari too who passed away on 19th January. He was an acclaimed social activist, academician and a great institution builder who played an active role in nurturing the civil society movement in India and generating debates on the key issues of social justice and Human Rights. He was also involved with institutions such as the People’s Union of Civil Liberties, the Indian Council of Social Science Research and the International Foundation for Development Alternatives.

Prof. Rajni will continue to be an inspiration and guidance to the social scientists and activists across the country.


Violations in News

Odisha doctor cuts patient’s oesophagus during surgery

The mishap took place at the Ramanaguda Community Health Centre on December 27, 2014. The patient identified as Sarita Padhi of Limapadar village under Gunupur block of Rayagada district along with four others, visited the Ramanaguda Community Health Centre along with an ‘Asha Worker’ to get the sterilization surgery done. However, the doctor, while doing the surgery, erroneously slashed the food pipe following which she was shifted to the private hospital in vizag. The incident created an uproar among the locals, who gheraoed the health centre and demanded strong action against the surgeon B Venkateswar Prusty.

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18 child labourers rescued in Odisha

Eighteen child labourers were rescued from restaurants and eateries in Bhanjanagar of Ganjam district in Odisha during a raid by district level task force against child labour. All the rescued children were boys between 12 and 14 years of age from economically backward families of Bhanjanagar and adjoining areas. The rescued children have been sheltered in Childline of Berhampur and their parents have been contacted by the authorities. “We found that in most cases, lack of parental care and guidance rather than economic condition was the reason behind the child labour status of these children,” said Prabhuprasad Patra of Berhampur Childline.

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Odisha woman dies after delivery as ambulance reaches hours late

A woman succumbed to excessive bleeding after child birth due to medical negligence and late arrival of ambulance. The doctor declared her dead at arrival and attributed her death to excessive bleeding coupled with lack of medical care on time. The pregnant woman laborer, identified as Sabi Munda from Gadadharpur village under Ghatagaon police station of Keonjhar district, was working along with her husband at a road construction site in Mot village under Brahmagiri Block of Puri district. She breathed her last after delivering her baby boy due to excessive bleeding and lack of medical facilities in Mot village under Brahmagiri police station in Puri district on Tuesday, making mincemeat of the grandiose claims of the Odisha government about providing maternal and new born care at their doorsteps.

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3 Trafficked Girls Rescued, Woman Broker Arrested

Three girls, who were trafficked to New Delhi, have been rescued by Gobindpur police from the national Capital and a woman arrested on the charges of buying them. Cops brought the girls to Gobindpur on Wednesday and forwarded the accused woman, Sabita Ekka, to court, which remanded her in judicial custody. The main accused, Kalista Kerketta of Jharkhand, is still at large. The rescued girls are Elina Dungdung (20), Cicilia Dungdung (19) and Celestina Kulu (17) of Jurapali village under Rabga panchayat in Bamra block.

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RTI activist killed in Ganjam

Right to Information (RTI) activist Ganesh Chandra Panda (52) was allegedly murdered in cold blood in the Golanthara police station area of Ganjam district in Odisha on Monday morning. Ganesh was a resident of Randha village, which is on the outskirts of Berhampur. Ganesh had started applying for information about different developmental works taken up in his panchayat area as he suspected irregularities and misappropriation of public money in these projects.

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87 migrant labourers rescued in Odisha’s Balangir

The Local police on 15th January rescued as many as 87 migrant labourers at Loisingha in Odisha’s Balangir district. Besides, a labour contractor has been detained for allegedly trafficking these labourers to outside the state. It may be recalled that at least 384 migrant labourers were rescued in three incidents in Bolangir district in December last year. At least 307 migrant labourers were rescued from a garden in Kudebhatta village under Belapada block of which 103 were men, 118 women and 86 children. In another incident, at least 51 migrant labourers were rescued from Onrabad Chhak in the sub-divisional town of Patnagarh in the district.

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NHRIs/SHRIs in News

Child Rights Panel Seeks Report on ICDS

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights has asked Malkangiri district administration to submit a detailed report within 15 days on the allegations of irregularities in implementation of Integrated Child Development Service (ICDS) programme in two blocks. Taking cognizance of a petition filed by Right to Food Campaign, Odisha, the national child rights panel directed the Collector to investigate into the charges.

The petition stated that child rights are being violated in the backward district due to mismanagement of ICDS programme in Korkunda and Khairput blocks depriving hundreds of children of their right to access to food.

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NHRC Seeks Report on Pensioners’ Plight

National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sought action taken report from the district administration on the plight of pensioners who walk a long way to Sadashivpur panchayat office to collect their monthly pension of `300.The Commission has sought information on the basic amenities in Sadashivpur panchayat within four weeks. The Commission acted on the petition filed by Human Rights activist Radhakant Tripathy who had alleged that due to Government apathy, senior citizens of Sadashivpur face hardships to collect their pension.

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Death of girl in school: NHRC warns Odisha CS of coercive action

Seven year old Sony Pradhan, a student of class-II in Uttarhana UGME School under Chandanpur police station in Puri district was injured when a big almirah kept in the classroom fell on her on July 29, 2013. She succumbed to her injuries at the SCB medical on August 2, 2013. The intervention of the NHRC was sought for an independent inquiry and compensation of Rs. 5 lakhs to the family members of the diseased by lawyer and human rights activist Prabir Kumar Das on August 5, 2013. Two more complaints were received by NHRC on the issue later. Following these complaints, the NHRC issued a show cause notice to the Government of Odisha, through the Chief Secretary, as to why monetary relief of Rs.3, 00,000/- u/s 18 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 will not be recommended to be paid to the next of kin of the deceased.

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OHRC Raises Compensation in Schoolgirl Electrocution Case

The Odisha Human Rights Commission (OHRC) has directed the School and Mass Education Department to pay a compensation of `three lakh to the family of a seven-year-old girl student who was electrocuted on the school premises in Balasore’s Bahanaga block in September. The compensation will be over and above the `one lakh paid to the girl’s kin from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund after the incident. The rights panel observed that the seven-year-old, Ritika Biswal, died due to ‘gross negligence’ on part of the headmistress and the siksha sahayak. The ex gratia of `one lakh was inadequate to compensate for the loss of human life where it is the responsibility of the State Government to ensure safety of the children in its schools, it stated.

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OHRC asks govt to demolish unsafe school buildings soon asks

Expressing deep concern on the functioning of some government schools in unsafe buildings, Odisha Human Rights Commission (OHRC) has asked the state government to demolish all unsafe school buildings immediately and construct new structures for students. The OHRC direction came in the wake of the death of a four-year-old student in a government-run school in Sambalpur district in June 2013.

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Law against conversion will go against Constitution: NCM

National Commission for Minorities today appeared to be critical of NDA government's suggestion for a law against conversion, saying it will go "against" Constitution and expressed concern over lack of action against people making "irresponsible" comments on conversion issue. "Indian Constitution guarantees every citizen the right to freedom of religion and any attempt to curtail this right goes against it. Ours is a secular nation where all religions are given an equal status and all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practice and propagate their religion."Claiming religious monopoly for any one religion in a multi-religious, secular state and forcible conversions through inducement, allurement and coercion violate the Constitution, and must be strongly condemned," a statement released by NCM said.

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Important Judgements/ Orders/ Observations

New rules to ensure students’ safety at ST/SC schools, hostels

The Odisha government has issued fresh guidelines for the safety and security of students in schools and hostels run by the ST and SC development department after girls complained of harassment in several cases. The new rules are expected to benefit about 4.5 lakhs students, who are being educated at 1,670 residential schools under the ST and SC development department.

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The new ordinance to amend Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation, Resettlement Act (LARR) 2013

The government on 29th December decided to introduce an ordinance to make major changes in the existing Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2013.Amending section 10(A) of the Land Acquisition, Rehab, Resettlement Act (LARR) 2013, the government said the mandatory "consent" clause and Social Impact Assessment (SIA) will not be applicable if the land is acquired for national security, defence, rural infrastructure including electrification, industrial corridors and housing for the poor including PPP where ownership of land continues to be vested with the government. The ordinance has also made farmers, indigenous people across several states come together to fight against the law  which, they believe, will open doors once again to forcible acquisition of land and easy acquisition of multi-crop land. The ordinance is in real an impediment   to social justice and violates all democratic norms and putting the poor people in more trouble.

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Case Updates
  1. In response to a complaint lodged by Amritlal Tigga, Human Rights activist, to initiate Suo-moto Investigation on “Girl Raped in Moving Bus” published at The New Indian Express, Bhubaneswar, on 7.09. 2013, the National Human Rights Commission on dated 11.09.2014 instructed the Collector and the District Magistrate, Keonjhar to submit its report on the incident. On receiving no response the NHRC again on 15.12.2014 reminded strictly the concerned authorities to expedite submission of such report within three weeks time.

  2. NHRC seeks Report on Medical Neglect of Tribal Students: On the basis of a petition filed by Rights activist Akhand alleging serious neglect towards health concerns of the inmates of residential school in tribal areas in Odisha the National Human Rights Commission has instructed the State Government to accord top priority to the health of inmates last year in November. But neither were they provided with prompt and adequate medical care during illness nor were the guidelines on health check up of the inmates prepared on a regular basis. Because of this negligence of the concerned authority a direction has been issued by the Commission to submit an Action Taken Report.

  3. In response to a complaint filed by Human Rights activist Akhand regarding 36 children, between the age group of 1 to 10 years, of Behula village under Garadapur block in Kendrapada district who fell sick after taking worm medicine by the local Asha workers and the ANMs in a de-warming camp, the National Human Rights Commission has sought an action taken report over the matter. The medicine administered to the children in the last five months has expired since June last, alleged Akhand. The apex rights panel have issued notice to the secretary of health and family welfare department and directed to submit the report in the matter within four weeks time. It was reported that on 5th November in a health camp organised at Tikanpur School by the Asha workers of the locality and the ANMs, Albendazole oral suspension was given to about 100 children. The same medicine was also given to the mothers of the children to feed them in their houses. But after taking the worm medicine as many as 36 children of Behula village fell sick and complained of headache, vomiting, abdomens aching and also fever. Two of the sick children were admitted at Patkura PHC.

  4. Responding to a complaint filed by Sarfraz Nawaz, requesting to look into the matter of unnatural death of a class IX student of Balipata Govt. High School under Narayanpatna block in Koraput & to take appropriate action against the guilty   person/authorities (published in the month of Feb, 2014 in newspaper, ‘Orissa POST’) the NHRC got the complaint registered bearing Reg. No. - 946/18/8/2014 and asked the Collectorate, Koraput (ST & SC Div. Section) to take action in this matter & submit a report about the incident. As per the direction of NHRC, the Collectorate, Koraput (ST & ST Div. Sec.) submitted an ATR dated 14th July, 2014. In the report, it was found that, as per the post mortem report, the death occurred due to heart failure of the student.  As payment of Ex-gratia to the next kin of the deceased student is concerned, it was informed that, Rs.100,000/- (One Lakh) has already been sanctioned vide the collectorate  office, with Order No.953 dated 17th March, 2014 & the sanctioned money is drawn.

    The victim ‘Nara Wateka’ (14), a resident of Anchalpur village under Narayanpatna block, had been staying in the sevashram hostel for the past few years. He complained of severe chest pain after taking meal at the hostel on 30thJan night. As his condition became critical, other inmates informed the sevashram authorities who took him to a hospital in Narayanpatna. However, he had to be shifted to a hospital in Laxmipur at around 1am due to absence of a doctor in Narayanpatna. On the way to the hospital, Wateka told his accomplices that his pain has reduced somewhat. But the doctors on night duty at Laxmipur hospital, stayed back at their homes instead of performing the discharging procedure. But, surprisingly after an hour later, ayush doctor of the hospital, ‘Snehalata Mohapatra’ declared the student dead. Following the student’s death, his father ‘Krishna Wateka’ alleged that his son died due to the negligence by the hospital staff & sevashram officials.

  5. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has come down heavily on the Board of Secondary Education (BSE) for sparing a Centre Superintendent because of whose negligence a physically challenged student’s result was declared as ‘malpractice’ in the High School Certificate (HSC) examination last year. The Board has been asked to explain why no action has been initiated against the errant official and directed to submit an action taken report within six weeks. Acting on a petition filed by rights campaigner Subash Mohapatra, the Commission sought to know if the Government has considered offering any compensation to the student. As per an inquiry report submitted  it was found that due to negligence of Centre Superintendent SK Rath of Durga Devi BNT Bidyapitha in Bangarsingha of Cuttack, the roll number of the victim was erroneously included in the malpractice list. Subsequently though, the student was declared ‘pass’ in B-1 Grade by securing 465 marks. The NHRC observed that responsibility for the mistake can be squarely fixed on Rath while BSE must take the blame for its negligence too. The rights panel said the Government report is silent on the action taken against Rath and payment of compensation to the victim since negligence has already been established. “Secretary of BSE, Cuttack, is directed to submit the action taken report against the Centre Superintendent at the earliest. He is also directed to submit whether any compensation has been proposed to be given to the victim for the negligence caused by Rath,” the Commission directed. While welcoming the NHRC’s order, the petitioner has requested Odisha Government to pay compensation to the student.
Meeting and Workshops
Workshop on Right to Freedom of Expression
A workshop on Freedom of Expression was organized by Report on Reporters (RoR) and Civil Society Forum on Human Rights (CSFHR) in CYSD, Bhubaneswar from 16th-17th January, 2015. More than 40 journalists and journalism students from different parts of the state attended the workshop. Mr.Justice Bira Kishore Misra, acting chairperson of Odisha Human Rights Commission was the chief guest on the occasion. Senior journalists like Jatindranath Dash, Basudev Mohapatra, Kedar Mishra, N.A.Ansari, Bighneswar Panda, Pratap Chandra Pradhan participated in the programme as resource persons and panellists in the programme.

The main objective of the workshop:

  1. To enable the participants to understand the relevance of human rights techniques and mechanisms for media activists.
  2. To help the participants to do monitoring of human rights violations through fact-finding, evidence based documentation and media campaign for justice to the violations.
  3. To make participants familiar with the statutory Human Rights Institutions/mechanisms available at state, national and international level to protect the rights to freedom of expression.
  4. To enhance participants’ skills and knowledge on promoting human rights using media.
  5. To strengthen the ROR forum by involving more like minded people.

The Convener of RoR, Sri Akhand spoke about the aims and objectives of RoR forum. He also shared his experiences of complaint filing with different commissions and some of his success stories. Adv. Chandranath Dani, CSFHR took a session on evidence collection and documentation for further advocacy and intervention. Mr.Dhirendra Panda, Convener CSFHR informed about the role of CSFHR in extending support to the reporters in Fact finding and complaint filing.  

Speaking at the various other sessions during the workshop, senior journalists Jatindra Das, Basudev Mohapatra, Kedar Mishra and NA Shah Ansari spoke at length about the right to freedom of press and use of social and community media for monitoring of rights issues.

Beside this many participants also shared their experiences of troubled situations; they face in reporting and publishing human rights interest stories in the daily vernaculars/periodicals.

Organizing ROR workshops at district level, using Social media for communication and regular intervention, a fact finding  visit to Bargarh (to investigate the case of harassment of a young journalist) and  urging Odisha Human Rights Commission  to establish a HRD desk at the office premises were some of the decisions taken by the members and participants.

II. Following the workshop on “Right to Freedom of Expression” the members and associates of Report on Reporters (RoR) and Civil Society Forum on Human Rights (CSFHR) met Justice Bira Kishore Misra , the acting chairperson of Odisha Human Rights Commission on 17th January 2015 and requested him to open a new cell for Human rights Defenders in the commission and appoint a new focal point there to look after the issues and concerns of HRDs of the state separately.

Fact Finding Reports

I. Fact-finding visit to investigate the arrest of Young Journalist in Padampur, Bargarh for exposing corrupt practices of the Police:

The Odisha Police on 24th January 2015 arrested a young journalist Mr.Susanta Kumar Pradhan who works as a District correspondent (Bargarh) of Odia weekly newspaper Jail Jharaka. Susanta is an active reporter who used to constantly write on corrupt practices of public officials in Padampur. Recently he wrote on the involvement of Padampur police in illegal drugs marketing. Before being arrested Susanta has received many threats of dire consequences by the police officials with regard to his article on the involvement of police on illegal Korex drugs marketing.

When he reported the threat to the SDPO Bargarh but received no help from him. Instead he was angry with him and filed false cases against him later. He came to Bhubaneswar and submitted a memorandum to met Satyajit Mohanty, Additional D.G. of police at Cuttack. He has sought assistance from CSFHR too.

To intervene in to the incident a team of four HRDs and Journalists  :Akhand, Amitabh Patra, Rajiv Lochan Ratan, Umesh Chandra Biswal, under the banner of Reports on Reporters(RoR), a state level forum of media activist & CIVIL SOCIETY FORUM ON HUMAN RIGHTS (CSFHR) went to the victim journalist’s village for a fact finding on 30th . The team visited his house which was searched by the police at mid night without any search warrant. The team also met the victim’s family members, the local Inspector in Charge (IIC) of the local police station and the Superintendent of Police (SP) at Bargarh.

Observations of the team:

The fact finding team after interacting with the family, relatives of the victim and police officials, collector etc came to the conclusion that

  • Susanta is a victim of liquor mafia and police nexus
  • He is being harassed only for his writing in his newspaper to expose the corruption in the appointment, liquor and drugs trade in the locality.
  • The victim’s family members are now in a traumatic condition, they urgently need legal help.
  • The local police officials should put an end to all acts of harassment against Journalists and all human rights defenders to ensure that in all circumstances they carry out their activities without any hindrance.

II. Malaarsahi (Mankedia Basti): A village with no basic amenities since 30 years.

A fact finding team from Civil Society Forum on Human Rights visited Malhaarsahi (Mankedia Basti) under Sukinda block in the district of Jajpur on 15th January 2015. The team members were Human Rights activists Biswanath Patra, Sanjay Kumar Naik, Udaya Kumar Pradhan and Goutam Patra It were found by the team that though the inhabitants of the village reside there since thirty years, there is no provision of basic infrastructure and they are yet to receive any assistance from the state government with this regard.

All the 105 famililies belong to the Scheduled Tribe (Mankedia Tribe) category. They are settled near the Tata Chromate Mining main gate on an encroached public land.

Through interaction with the inhabitants the team came to know that though they have applied for land lease and other basic infrastructure many times for their village, they never received any positive response from the government. As a result of which the tribe is living in a miserable condition leading to gruesome poverty 75 percent of residents do not have voter Identity card or Aadhar Card. The public distribution System is dysfunctional in the village and no family possesses a BPL card. The village is characterised mainly by lack of Education, safe drinking water facility, Electricity, Unemployment. Due to poverty many are seen to be involved in beggary and others are heavily dependent on the nearby forest for their livelihood.

The team then met the local administrator to discuss and gain knowledge on the steps taken for the provision of basic infrastructure. On 18th January Mr. Santosh Kumar Padhi, the Welfare Officer said that Malaarsahi Mankedia basti will be soon provided with land patta, SHG and school facilities to be started also. Banmali Mohanty (BRCC) was of the opinion that there was a school near the village but due to lack of awareness raised by the teachers the children could not be drawn to school.

Other officials also assured the team that the state government is under the process to necessary steps to ensure all the basic facilities to the village.

After the fact finding visit a complaint was filed by Biswanath Patra with the National Human rights Commission urging the commission to take immediate steps and direct the state government to take actions in this regard which was registered by the commission.

III. Submission of memorandum to the Chief Secretary, Odisha urging him to take immediate action to investigate into the murder of RTI activist Ganesh Pradhan

With the aim to ensure justice to RTI activist Ganesh Pradhan ,  a team of  Human Rights  Defenders  Sri  Pradip Pradhan, state Convener, Odisha Soochana Adhikar Abhijan, Sri Pradipta Nayak, Member, HRD Alert, Sri Chandranath Dani  and Sri Akhand, Human Rights Activists  met  Chief  Secretary, Odisha  and submitted memorandum  urging him  to take steps  for opening   a special desk in the office of DG, Police to independently  investigate  into  allegation of murder or attack on RTI Activists  and provide  them protection  along with amending  Odisha RTI Rules, 2005.

They requested him for high-level inquiry into the circumstances leading to murder of RTI Activist Sri Ganesh Chandra Panda, open a Desk in the office of Director General of Police especially for RTI and Human Rights Activists to receive the complaints of attacks and threats against them and to take prompt action against the accused.

On   29.12.14, Sri Ganesh Chandra Panda,   RTI Activist of Berhampur,   district headquarters of Ganjam district was severely attacked by some miscreants from backside and died on the spot,   while he was on his morning walk, a few meters away from his house. To ascertain the facts and circumstances led to murder of Sri Panda, a fact-finding team had visited to Berhampur and conducted the spot inquiry into the murder and found that use of RTI to expose corruption was the reason behind the murder of Sri Ganesh Chandra Panda.  The Team met   Inspector I-Charge, Golanthara Police Station, and Additional SP and urged upon them to arrest the culprits behind the arrest.  But the team came across a lot of issues involved in respect of murder of RTI Activist and attack on RTI users in the state.

The demands:

  1. The Police should arrest the culprits of Mr. Ganesh Ch. Panda’s murder immediately and take exemplary action against them, so that they will be discouraged from taking any vindictive action against the family members of Mr. Panda in future.

  2. The State Govt. should order for high-level inquiry into the circumstances leading to murder of RTI Activist Sri Ganesh Chandra Panda and produce the report within 15 days.

  3. The State Govt. should open a Desk in the office of Director General of Police especially for RTI and Human Rights Activists to receive the complaints of attacks and threats against them and to take prompt action against the accused.

  4. Anti-people Odisha RTI Rules 2005 Act needs to be  amended immediately, especially  withdrawing the compulsory provision for   submission of proof of citizenship at the time of filing RTI Applications and  abolishing the compulsory provision for using the Form-A that requires inter alia disclosure of several personal details like permanent address and name of father/spouse.

  5. The State Govt. should provide adequate financial support for survival of the family members of Ganesh Ch. Panda, who attained martyrdom in course of his crusade against corruption through the use of RTI.

Ordinance to amend the new Land Acquisition Act 2013 is undemocratic
By : Sandeep Kumar Pattnaik, National Centre for Advocacy Studies(NCAS)

For some decades, there is a nationwide opposition to the forceful land acquisition process undertaken by the government using the colonial land acquisition act of 1894. In the name of public interest, the government was arbitrarily taking over the people’s land.  As its consequences, there occurred the death and permanent disablement of numerous farmers and workers who were opposed to the land acquisition process.

Through the consistent struggle of social movements and campaign of civil rights organisations, the last UPA government had to replace the land acquisition act 1894 by the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2013. However, the new Act has elicited a mixed reaction.

This act gives legal guarantees for the rights of the project affected persons and for ensuring of greater transparency in the land acquisition process. The LARR Act 2013 has also provided for the mandatory involvement of local self-government institutions and gram sabhas with a view to putting in place a humane, participative, consultative and transparent process of land acquisition.  The act speaks of the least displacement, just compensation and rehabilitation and a decentralized development planning process as required under Part-IX of the Constitution (73rd Amendment), PESA Act 1996 and FRA 2006.

On December 30, 2014, The Union Cabinet approved an ordinance to amend the LARR Act 2013.  As irony would have it, the very Government at Centre which supported the landmark legislation only a year back, it now amended the new law to divest it of some seminal provisions relating to rights of the affected people vis-à-vis the Government and the Corporate.

The amendment is utterly anti-people and more so contrary to the interests of people in the Scheduled Areas. It specifically targets the select clauses of the Act that give powers to the affected people to voice their concerns freely and fearlessly through Social Impact Assessment and otherwise.

The amendment includes removal of Social Impact Assessment and the ‘consent’ clause for acquiring five purposes including national security, defence, rural infrastructure including electrification, industrial corridors and building social infrastructure including PPP where ownership of land continues to be vested with the government. As per the changes brought in the ordinance, multi-crop irrigated land can also be acquired for these purposes.

Thus it is most likely that the ordinance would snatch away the rights of farmers, tribals, Dalits, and women over their land by omitting steps like social impact assessment, impact on food security, and consent of 80% land owners.

Detrimental effect of the Ordinance in brief:

  • The ordinance is authoritarian and utterly anti-farmer and anti-rural poor in its substance.
  • This ordinance is not just an injustice to the farmers, but a sell-out to the land grabbers. This will allow land grabbers to deprive millions, destroy agriculture, tree cover and mangroves to extract minerals as well as ground water, without replenishment at a pace that will not leave anything for the next generation.
  • The share croppers and agricultural labourers would be worst sufferers.  Although large part of agricultural land in Odisha is tilled by share croppers, they have been completely ignored in this new Ordinance.
  • Dropping out 'consent' totally, justifying the 'public purpose' served by private projects.
  • Dropping out the clauses of consent and SIA will be undemocratic, unscientific and irrational preconditions for any exercise in development planning.
  • The impugned amendment reverses the 2013 Act to 'the principle of eminent domain of the State.
  • Thus this retrograde Ordinance will place the whole nation and especially the vulnerable people in the Scheduled Areas back to the draconian era of colonial Land Acquisition Act 1894.  In the name of development, this draconian ordinance is nothing but a heinous conspiracy for snatching lands from the peasants in the interest of the national & multinational corporations particularly those MNCs who want to invest huge capital in real-estate business. As a result of this ordinance millions of poor and middle peasants will be uprooted from their lands and will add the numbers of the street beggars.

As a mark of protesting the new Ordinance, a signature campaign against the centre’s decision to promulgate the ordinance to amend the Act was organised in January 2015. The peasants, tribals, dalits in Odisha are in the process of submitting the  memorandum  to the Governor of Odisha urging to  ensure the implementation of the LARR Act 2013 by ignoring the above Ordinance; and to promulgate a special Regulation on Land Acquisition in Scheduled Areas, by way of exercising the powers under Fifth Schedule of the Constitution.

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