Burla: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has served notice on the Chief Secretaries of Odisha and Chhattisgarh besides the District Magistrates of Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, Bargarh, Sundargarh and Subaranpur in a case relating to the rehabilitation of people displaced by the Hirakud Dam project — one of the oldest unresolved issues of displacement in the country.
While hearing the almost fiveyear-old petition filed by senior lawyer Radhakanta Tripathy, the commission expressed displeasure over a report submitted before it by Odisha Chief Secretary recently.
“It is saddened to note that even after 60 years, thousands of displaced families have not been rehabilitated nor granted compensation as promised by the government of Odisha, their lives have become miserable,” said the rights body.
The NHRC has questioned the decision of the Odisha government to dismiss a large number of applications for homestead land for want of documentary proof.
“It’s quite impossible to show the documentary proof after 65 years of displacement. Neither the government has all the records of displacement, nor any survey has been undertaken on the issue,” said the commission.
The commission has directed the Odisha Chief Secretary to pay compensation to as many as 13,740 displaced families who are yet to receive compensations and submit the Action-Taken Report (ATR) within eight weeks.
The NHRC has also sought reports on a few other issues as well.
This apart, the NHRC has directed the District Magistrates of Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, Bargarh, Sundargarh and Subaranpur to take up the issue ‘constructively’ and submit compliance reports on directions of the commission regarding rehabilitation and compensation to the displaced families.
On the other hand, the Chief Secretary of Chhattisgarh has been asked to submit a report elaborating measures taken by it to address the grievances, mostly related to amenities, of the residents of all 20 affected villages of both Surguja and Raigad districts within six weeks.
Notably, Tripathy had moved the NHRC drawing its attention to the incomplete rehabilitation of 26,561 families displaced for construction of the Hirakud Dam project the land for which was acquired during 1952-53.