Lawyers, SC and ST rights activists, and tribesmen, led by the Indian Association of Lawyers (IAL), said Monday that rehabilitation and resettlement of only 4% of the oustees of the Polavaram irrigation project has been completed despite the government’s plans to complete the project construction of the project by the end of the year.
In a media conference held here, IAL state executive Ainavarapu Suryanarayana said that about 53% of the 5.8 lakh total of the Polavaram Project oustees are tribal.
“By April, only 4,000 of the more than 1.5 lakh families affected had been rehabilitated. The Supreme Court of Andhra Pradesh has ordered the completion of the rehabilitation and resettlement process on par with the construction of the project. However, the state government appears to be preparing to force the oustees to leave their homes without compensation, ”Suryanarayana said.
Polavaram Nirvasithula Hakkula Porata Committee meeting leader A. Veerabhadra Reddy said construction on the project site should stop until thousands of tribal families have been rehabilitated. “We never spoke out against the project. We are only appealing to the government to give the oustees the promised compensation, ”he said.
“Successive central and state governments have never set a deadline to complete the rehabilitation and resettlement process. However, they always focus on completing the project within the deadline and kicking tribesmen from the project sites,” said Veerabhadra Reddy.
Aithabattula Rameswara Rao, a member of the SC&ST Vigilance and Monitoring Committee of East Godavari District, said the state and center should have responsibility for ensuring the financial and social security of the evacuees in accordance with applicable law. “However, such an initiate has not been seen in over a decade,” he added.