A plea by a lawyer has claimed incomplete rehabilitation of 26,561 displaced families

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has asked the Odisha government to submit a report on non-receipt of compensation by people who were displaced by the Hirakud Dam project — one of the oldest unresolved problems of displacement in the country.

The rights panel asked the Chief Secretary to submit the report by December 7.

Human rights lawyer Radhakanta Tripathy had moved the NHRC drawing its attention to incomplete rehabilitation of 26,561 families displaced for construction of the Hirakud Dam project. The land for the mega project was acquired during 1952-53.

After the NHRC’s intervention, the Revenue Divisional Commissioner, Northern Division of Odisha, submitted that steps were taken from time to time to redress grievances of the displaced families who belonged to four districts — Jharsuguda, Sambalpur, Bargarh and Subarnapur.

“The issues with regard to DC [Deputy Commissioner] patta, payment of ex gratia, homestead land, settlement of agriculture land and basic amenities stand settled. As on date, no case of rehabilitation is pending,” the RDC had submitted to the NHRC.

The RDC, however, admitted that certain service groups of people, including Jhankar, Chowkidar, Nariha. Dhoba and Bhandari were not awarded full compensation and were yet to be rehabilitated.

“Without proper rehabilitation and compensation more than 26,000 families have been displaced for the construction of Hirakud Dam project. The project has submerged more than 360 villages covering more than 1,23,000 acres of land and displaced more than one lakh people. About seventy years have passed, even the third generation of the victims could not get justice due to the corrupt and lethargic bureaucracy,” Mr. Tripathy alleged.

The issue drew attention after the investigation report of NHRC Special Rapporteur B.B. Mishra revealed that a large number of people had not been compensated.

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