4 July:A presentation on the salient features of India’s newly crafted Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy made by the Ministry of Rural Development before the World Bank Experts in Washington has received accolades from International Body. Experts present on the occasion took notice of the many facets that make the Indian Policy a one-of- its kind policy anywhere in the world.
The presentation broadly outlined the factors and circumstances that led to a complete revamp of the earlier 2003 policy and the evolutionary process that heralded the beginning of a new era for the displaced. The process of formulation of the new policy – the extensive consultations with State governments, industry representatives, civil society organizations, social activists, in a word, all stakeholders – was especially highlighted. So was the fact that India is now moving rapidly towards transforming policy into legislation with a Parliamentary Standing Committee finalizing its recommendations and two Bills likely to be introduced in the forthcoming Session of Parliament. This presentation was Led by the drive of the Minister of Rural Development, Raghuvansh Prasad Singh.The Indian Government has put together a Policy that is comprehensive, visionary and enlightened.
Thereafter, the presentation moved to the benefit package for the affected families. These included free house site to the affected families, land for land to the extent available, rehabilitation grant equal to 750 days of agricultural wages, option to take part of this in the form of shares or debentures, fishing rights priority, development grant for allocated wastelands, cost of registration of allotted land to be borne by the requiring body, cattle owner families to get minimum of Rs.15,000/- for construction of cattle shed, employment to at least one person from project affected family subject to availability, skill up gradation training, preference in various economic opportunities including outsourcing of contracts, engagement of labourers, etc. and scholarships to eligible persons, monthly subsistence allowance, monthly pension to the vulnerable and most importantly, compensation to be paid before displacement.
The applicability of the Policy not only to those whose lands are being acquired but to all those who are involuntarily displaced on a permanent basis for any reason was also emphasized. Attention to the provisions for Social Impact Assessment, effective, monitoring arrangements and the grievance redressal mechanism was drawn during the presentation. International experts including sector managers, regional coordinators, social development specialists, quality assurance professionals, energy and water experts, and land management practitioners who constituted the audience, applauded the presentation and termed the Indian initiative as the most comprehensive and far-reaching policy in the world. They had a large number of enquiries, naturally, but these were answered with poise and assurance. Without doubt, India is showing to the way to the world in this crucial field – a humane, practical, considerate and sensitive way, where there is a just balance between the implementation of development projects and the handling of the human factor in all its ramifications.