HAL relief demand
Koraput: Hundreds of people displaced by various projects in Koraput, Malkangiri, Rayagada and Nabarangpur districts aired their grievances at a one-day public hearing organised for them at the headquarters town on Wednesday.
"In the mid-60s, we had been displaced for the establishment of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) at Sunabeda in Koraput district, but we are yet to get compensation against that. Whenever we demand for our legitimate rights on land and compensation, police are used against us and our voices are suppressed," said Trilohan Muduli, a tribal leader spearheading the HAL displaced people's movement in the area.
"We had sacrificed everything for power and water. But still, we are bereft of safe drinking water. Three out of the four tube wells at the camp lie defunct. We have to stand in queues for long before the only functional one for water," said Dasarathi Burudi of Khilloput village under Koraput block. He had been displaced for the Upper Kolab Multipurpose Project in the mid-80s and is now rehabilitated by the state government at camp No. 6, about 70km from the Kolab reservoir.
Jury member Manoranjan Mohanty, while delivering judgment on behalf of the jury, said: "Sufferings and human rights abuses of the displaced people, particularly the tribal, are painful. It is crystal clear that the rights of these displaced people have not been given due consideration."
Claiming it as a historic injustice, Mohanty said: "We are still hopeful that the government will show more sincerity towards addressing the problems of the displaced people."
Prafulla Samantary of the Lok Shakti Abhiyan, a voluntary organisation that had organised the public hearing, said: "The objective of the public hearing is to hear grievances of those, who are victims of forced displacement in south Odisha and place it before the government for necessary action."
Sandeep Patnaik, state representative of the Pune-based National Centre for Advocacy Studies and a co-organiser of the event, said: "The evidences showed serious failure in proper resettlement and rehabilitation of the people displaced by many projects in the undivided Koraput district."
Later, thousands of displaced people took out a rally in the town and submitted a memorandum to chief minister Naveen Patnaik through the district administration.