BHUBANESWAR: Thousands of families displaced by the Hirakud Dam project are left in the lurch after the State governments of Odisha and Chhattisgarh told the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) that no oustees are left to be compensated.
In response to a notice from the apex human rights body over a petition and subsequent rejoinders filed for rehabilitation of the project affected people, both the governments claimed all displaced families have been compensated and rehabilitated properly and no claim is pending.
Supreme Court lawyer and rights activist Radhakanta Tripathy, who had moved the NHRC seeking rehabilitation for those left out of the compensation package, alleged the claim of the Odisha government is nothing but a pack of lies as thousands of displaced families in four districts of the State are waiting for compensation even seven decades after the project was executed.
“The third generation of the families displaced for the project are struggling to eke out a living. Neither have they been compensated nor rehabilitated properly. Hundreds of families are yet to get record of rights of the land provided to them,” he pointed out.
The petitioner alleged more than 26,000 families have been displaced for construction of the dam, which has submerged more than 360 villages over 1.23 lakh acre of agricultural land and displaced more than one lakh people. The government records though mentioned displacement of 18,000 families, more than 40 per cent of whom are yet to be compensated. Acting on the petition, the NHRC had earlier deputed Special Rapporteur BB Mishra to investigate into the allegation by making a field visit.
In his interim report, Mishra had pointed out lapses on the part of the local administration in rehabilitating some of the displaced and sought more time to conduct further probe and submit a final report, which could not be done due to the pandemic.
Tripathy submitted to the NHRC that due to the negligent of the state authorities, the victim families continued to face problems for generations in the affected districts.