We, the people affected by developmental projects including dams, mines, sanctuaries and national parks, tourism projects, urban infrastructure, industries and others, social activists, support organisations, academics, researchers and others, gathered here in Delhi on November 30 and December 1, 2004 for a National Convention on Development, Displacement and Rehabilitation,
Believing in, and committed to, a rights-based, people-centred approach to development,
Affirming the principles of justice, equality, democracy, and sustainability,
Opposing ethnic discrimination and the unjust treatment of, and burden placed on, marginalised populations, in particular adivasis, dalits, and women by the prevalent development paradigm dominated by the state, corporates and global lenders,
Recognizing the distinctive but often neglected contributions of these peoples,
Asserting the Fundamental Rights, Directive Principles and other basic features of the Indian Constitution,
Noting Government of India’s international legal obligations under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Labour Organization’s Convention 107, among other international conventions, and
Upholding the pluralist, secular nature of the Indian polity,
Believe and assert that:
There certainly is an alternative to the prevalent model of development that causes displacement, deprivation, and destitution in the guise of the ‘greater common good.’
· The choice of technology for development must be one that generates more livelihood opportunities; is least destructive of natural resources and least displacing of people; enables fulfilment of basic needs; ensures equitable distribution of benefits; and supports sustainable use of natural resources. Such technologies must be approved, facilitated and prioritized. This must be done with full information given to affected people.
· The Government of India and each state must urgently initiate a wide social consultation involving various sections of the population, especially the disadvantaged sections, through mass-based, active peoples’ organizations, to work out and declare a sectoral policy with a clear vision, purpose and objectives, modus operandi, and process. This should be in keeping with the values of the Constitution, respecting special national policies and international covenants, protecting the poor and disadvantaged, including dalits, adivasis, women, peasants, informal sector workers, manual labourers and fisher people.
· The interpretation of the principle of eminent domain, on which the laws enabling displacement of people and appropriation of common property resources is based, is unacceptable.
· For every project, the government concerned must publicly justify the ‘public interest’ sought to be served by the proposed project or activity, prior to clearance by the concerned authority and consent by the affected community, and this should be legally challengeable. This should be applicable to every public and private agency.
· In every sector and project/plan, the clear objective should be to minimize displacement. All options and alternatives for a project must be assessed, and the non-displacing or least-displacing option must be chosen. Eviction and deprivation of adivasis should be avoided to the maximum, in the spirit of Schedule V of the Constitution. All attempts to amend Schedule V that would weaken the rights of tribals should be stalled.
· In no case rural or urban should displacement or evictions be forced or involuntary. In case of a project affecting dalits and tribals, no displacement should be permitted without concurrence of the Commissioner for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
· No project should be finalized or considered a fait accompli unless each of the affected communities is fully informed of the social, environmental and economic costs and benefits of a project/plan, and its consent is sought through gram sabhas in rural areas and ward sabhas in urban areas with a participatory process involving all communities and families, paying special attention to issues of class, caste and gender. Detailed legal rules and resolutions must be worked out for each sector, government and private agency, in the spirit of the 73rd and 74th Constitutional amendments, and the PESA (Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act of 1996/97, aiming at tribal self-rule.
· After evaluating all options, if displacement is found inevitable in a certain project, it must be kept to the minimum, and it must be ensured that all affected people are properly rehabilitated, ensuring that they are not worse off than they were before displacement, and that the process of rehabilitation is humane, just, transparent and participatory to the maximum extent.
· ‘Affected people’ should be defined as all the individuals, families and communities that are either physically displaced from their homes, or whose livelihood activities in formal or informal sectors or access to private and/or community resources is adversely affected by the project and related works.
· Unless former displaced people are fully rehabilitated, no new projects should be sanctioned in any unit of planning such as river valley, tehsil or city.
· Land reform for equitable redistribution and recognition of common property rights over natural resources should form an integral part of any development plan.
· The planning process must begin with full benchmark surveys of families and their private and public/community resources, with a time-frame of at least one year prior to the survey and two years prior to acquisition. Investigations regarding these must be undertaken to estimate all impacts of the project and related works on livelihoods, incomes, health, social matrix, natural environs, and equity/inequity in development.
· There should be an Auditor General to review the ownership and distribution of natural resources including land and forests, and present regular audits before the people and the government.
· Prior to any acquisition of land in rural or tribal areas, all land rights must be settled through a special drive ending before land acquisition commences. Prior to acquisition in an urban or semi-urban area, a zonal plan and a city/town plan updating all records of habitats, houses, amenities, livelihoods must be prepared and taken as a basis for granting due rights and replacement, if necessary.
· In all cases, the policy of land-for-land should apply to all project-affected landholders losing more than 25% of their landholding or those who are left with less than 5 acres to make it a minimum 5 acres holding. A special effort must be made to provide land to all peasants, landless families, and especially to all tribal families. In the case of a medium or major irrigation project, land should be purchased/acquired from farmers in the benefited areas. This land should be allotted according to the principle of rehabilitation as public purpose.
· Alternative livelihoods must be ensured for all project-affected non-agriculturalists and urban poor, including traders, artisans, hawkers, and providers of other services in the affected area. Similarly, for urban displaced persons too, alternative livelihoods must be ensured and until this is done, all schemes applicable to the urban poor must be made available to them.
· Land for housing of urban poor should be provided near their workplaces. Industrial and urban land ceiling laws should be formulated to prevent concentration of land.
· Compensation for any property should be based on replacement value at actual market prices. Compensation must be for lost property and for lost livelihoods or opportunities. Common property resources must also be replaced or compensated.
· The community (as defined by the affected people themselves), not individuals or families, should be the basic unit for resettlement and rehabilitation (R&R).
· No physical displacement of any families should take place until one year or more after providing the basic means and resources for social and economic rehabilitation.
· The process of selecting R&R sites as well as agricultural land for rehabilitation must be done along with the consent of the project-affected families (PAFs).
· PAFs must have the first right to, and be granted an appropriate share in, the benefits arising out of the project, including livelihood opportunities, irrigation water, power, fisheries, etc.
· It must be ensured that no individual family is displaced more than once within two decades, on account of any developmental project or land acquisition for public purpose.
· The Land Acquisition Act of 1894 (amended in 1984), a remnant of the colonial era - must be abolished and replaced by a National Enactment, which defines all development parameters, indicators, processes of planning, the least-cost technological option, along with the objective of minimising displacement and ensuring just rehabilitation of people whose lands are acquired. In addition, the National Forest Act of 1927 must also be abolished and replaced with another law that ensures peoples’ rights over their resources.
· The National Rehabilitation Policy must be reformulated, keeping in mind all these principles, and this must lead to the formation of the National Rehabilitation Act. These must be applicable to both publicly and privately owned development projects.
· Special Commissions on Displacement and Rehabilitation should be constituted both at national and state levels with judicial powers in certain cases, and quasi-judicial powers in others. In due course of time, these should be made constitutional authorities. These bodies must approve the rehabilitation plan for all projects causing displacement; the state commissions to approve in the case of state-level projects and the national commission in case of inter-state projects. Each commission should have an in-built grievance redressal mechanism.
· We reject the economics of gigantism and instead prefer small, local and decentralized projects.
· We challenge neo-liberal economic globalisation, privatization and increasing commercialization, as propagated by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organisation among others, which leads to alienation of people from their rights and resources. Instead, we advocate a pro-people economy and society as our aim and struggle is to build a non-violent, communitarian and inter-dependent social order, which ensures the security and well-being of all.
National Alliance of People's MovementsAndhra Pradesh Agricultural Labourers’ Union National Fish Workers Forum Lokayan Shoshit Jan Andolan Shahar Vikas Manch (Maharashtra)Narmada Bachao Andolan Delhi Forum Indian Social Institute Habitat International Coalition - Housing and Land Rights Network Matu Jana Sangathan Dilli Vikas Morcha Rajendra Prasad Academy, New Delhi