Dams and Social Damage : Experience of Indian Communities

Research Paper in International Social Science Conference 

13 to 16 June 2005, Honolulu, HI, United States

The fundamental principle of the development is 'sustainability' in the present day context. Development should be open and a participatory process of environmental, social, economic, cultural and political changes that can be achieved through preservation and conservation of ecosystems. The contention of Brundtland Report that development should meet the needs of the present without compromising on the ability of future generations to meet their own needs is the ideal situation that any welfare state should be aiming to achieve. But, the ongoing process in the name of 'development' seems to be going against this definition. The development process, proposals and projects of recent times are in fact facing strong resistance from people since this development is contributing to disturbance and destruction also.

Although the concept of development has been invading the world from different directions, the resistance seems to be more in the case of big dams. Because, construction of major dams causes the disturbance of ecological balance. Secondly, it contributes to dislocation and displacement of millions of people. Now, India has over 4,000 large dams. Most of them were built after Independence. In 1950 there were only about 300 large dams and the rest were undertaken in the second half of the 20th Century. It is also noted that most of the large dams were undertaken in the period 1970-1990. Powerful voices and arguments have strengthened the anti-dam movements in India. People-oriented research projects have questioned the so-called ‘development’. In this process contributions made by Indian activist scholars for ‘World Commission on Dams’ in the form of independent papers and reports threw light on the darker side of the lives of dam victims. A close examination of these details raises the debate as to whether these dams are temples or graves.

While displacement itself leads to a traumatic and chaotic situation, rehabilitation becomes another major problem for people because the rehabilitation policies are neither thoughtfully and thoroughly planned nor implemented. Throughout the world, well-meaning intellectuals, scholars and activist social workers are vehemently opposing the construction of major dams and the destruction caused by them by debating on environmental, economic, cultural and social loss. World Commission on Dams (WCD) even compiled a report of these concerns by gathering information throughout the world from independent researchers and experts.

People's resistance, civil society campaigns, NGOs and academic researchers no doubt succeeded in articulating their concerns and creating awareness among people to some extent about these issues. In India too, it is a fact that no other movement in recent times has gained momentum and got the people's support as the issue of dams has. No other campaign was covered by print as well as electronic media as extensively as the issue of dams and displacement was. While the work done by these groups is commendable, a serious examination of the same will also raise an important question, that is whether the assessments and analyses of the destruction are examined from all the possible perspectives or not, giving voice to all the social, cultural and ethical issues related to displacement and rehabilitation.

Taking a stand that the debate over development, dams and damage is neither comprehensive nor inclusive of all social, cultural and community perspectives, this paper makes an attempt to highlight the damage and disturbance caused by the displacement in a rural community life which is based on co-existence and mutual dependence. The cultural, economic, ecological and environmental issues related to displacement are being thoroughly discussed and debated. However, it is also important to discuss how displacement and improper rehabilitation can lead to loss of livelihood, identity and professional security in a closely-knit rural situation thus leading to forcible migration. This paper specifically attempts to explain the damages caused to a village community, its life and livelihood which were shaped in the process of civilisation, by examining the past and present of a project-affected village in India. The paper strongly advocates that not only ecology, environment, ethnicity, wild life but also social ecology, community coexistence and professional security are equally important and are threatened much more in the process of displacement.

State Policies:

In post-Independence India, the thrust of development forced Indian leadership to adapt a development model of economic prosperity. In the first phase India felt that the development essentially means economic development and economists focused their attention exclusively on economic growth. The social conditions such as hunger, poverty, unemployment and other rural issues favoured a development model of accelerated economic growth. The rulers and policy makers proposed mega projects like big dams, steel plants, and mining excavations and projected all these major projects as symbols of development and progress. The rulers used to repeatedly tell the people to prepare for ‘sacrifices’ in the interest of nation. Dam building was considered synonymous with nation building.

Politicians played with the emotions of people in order to shape their minds. Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister, for instance, described big dams as ‘secular temples’ of modern India. On another occasion, he viewed the dam as legitimate and inevitable cost of development, to be accepted in the larger national interest. While laying the foundation stone for India’s first major river valley project, the Hirakud Dam in Orissa in 1948, Nehru gave a message to the people “If you have to suffer, you should do so in the interest of the country” (quoted in Roy 1999). The same sentiments were echoed for 36 years after Nehru’s comments in the words of Indira Gandhi. She wrote a letter to India’s most respected social activist Baba Amte in which she said, “I am most unhappy that development projects displace tribal people from their habitat, especially as project authorities do not always take care to properly rehabilitate the affected population, but some times there is no alternative and we have to go ahead in the larger interest” (quoted in Kotari 1996; 1976). Thus, the rulers motivated the nation towards big dams, diverted all the energies by pumping huge funds into irrigation projects.

Displacement Discourse:

Concentration shifted from environmental issues to individuals in the second phase of the discourse. Probably it is because the western ideology and west-based funding agencies such as World Bank conditions that specifically emphasised the 'indigenous people's rights'. In fact, the funding agencies were forced to include such a clause owing to the pressure of the global civil society and people's initiatives. The focal point of this pressure is displacement of people. The new development projects particularly in the developing world have caused dislocation of large number of people. The extent and implications of such forced evacuation and relocation are diverse, depending on the nature of the project and density of population, which is being affected. The size of a displaced population may vary from country to country. It is more in the developing countries because of the density of population.

According to some estimates, in India alone around 50 to 60 million people have been displaced in the name of development projects.[ii] It is four times the estimated 15 million people exchanged between India and Pakistan at the time of the Partition of the subcontinent in 1947. The two countries are yet to get out of that trauma but there is very little consciousness about four times that number of DP/PAP in the name of national development in India alone (Mankodi 1981: 150).

The main problem that arises consequent to displacement is relocation of people. In India, the unfortunate situation is that there is no comprehensive rehabilitation policy. In the absence of statutory rehabilitation laws or even national policy on rehabilitation, there is no legal imperative for state governments or project authorities to integrate comprehensive rehabilitation planning into the planning of a project. More often than not, project authorities are interested mainly in the relocation rather than the rehabilitation of project-affected people, for their primary concern is their physical transference from the submerged zone thus making space for the project rather than the long term welfare of the displaced people. In most cases the social fabric of the rural areas is destroyed when they are relocated in alien surroundings or in a fragmented manner.[iii] Most of the studies in India that focussed their analysis on DPs, identified tribals as the worst sufferers because they are the people who directly depend on the natural resources particularly on forests and water sources. In Indian population, tribals were around 8.5% but were estimated to be 40% of the PAPs (Fernandes 1988: 251). In Andhra Pradesh they were 6.6% of the population (1991) but over 27% of PAP and in Orissa they were 22% of the population but 42%of PAP.

The attention and concern of the researchers is more on tribals because of their number and cultural significance. Tribals are less in number, unique in culture including language, settlement, social life and economic activity. Mostly they are "primitive" in lifestyle and distinct from the rest of the society. The second reason could be the compensation package. In India, the only significant reparation for displaced people guaranteed by law is the payment of monetary compensation for the acquired individual assets, particularly the immovable property. However, the manner in which the law is framed and interpreted ensures that the displaced landowner or house owner is always the loser. Lokayan, a well-known organization documented the trauma undergone by 21,094 families in the 100 villages submerged under the Srisailam project in Andhra Pradesh. The report (1982) states: "the government has conceived and executed the Srisailam project...without taking into consideration the human problem seriously.... The disbursement of compensation (in cash) did not encourage plans for settlement...large rich farmers managed to receive compensation, for both houses and land lost, at reasonably competitive terms; people with low economic and social status did not get their compensation for the property lost. The people were neither educated nor taken into confidence regarding the various issues involved in computing compensation, evacuation and rehabilitation[iv]".

Compensation for the lost immovable property is paid for at the alleged market rate rater than according to the replacement value thus leading to the devaluation of compensation.[v] Another implication is that the compensation is paid only to the people possessing undisputed legal title and most tribals do not have a land of their own at all. Even if one owns a piece of land, holding a legal title is next to impossible. This problem is not confined to tribals alone. In Indian villages, most of the small and marginal farmers and agricultural communities are in a similar condition. Particularly Dalits and other lower caste groups who were originally landless or owned very little land, have suffered drastically and are eventually pushed into the category of migrant labourers and construction workers. (Parasuraman 1999: 177)

Particularly in India, individuals and communities are bound together in webs of social and ecological relations. Individual and community life are closely linked particularly in the areas where people live close to nature, more specifically rural areas and tribal communities. This is most typically exemplified by people who are displaced by the projects, whose habitations and lands are submerged, and whose sources of livelihood (non-land based) are threatened. The very important and notable fact about Indian village is that more than 60 per cent of the village population is landless and live in the villages by providing various services. These service castes, artisan communities, agricultural labour castes and other traditional hereditary based occupational castes live in the villages by extending their skills and services to the village communities including farming communities and landlords. Carpenters, blacksmiths, rope makers, cattle breeders support agriculture by providing various instruments and other inputs to farmers. Similarly, potter men, washer men, barber and other ‘service castes’ serve the village with their traditional duties. Even now in most of the villages there is no fixed and standard wages for their services. Generally the farming community compensates or attends to the food needs of the people who serve them by providing goods and services on token and lump sum basis. Thus, the village communities are linked with one another with very deep-rooted and inherited relations based on mutual support and co-operation. In a village, for example, landless labourers who worked on the lands that have been acquired for the project, artisans or petty traders and various other occupational communities such as cattle grazers, liquor brewers and rope makers are displaced after relocation.

This paper focuses on the experience of a Blacksmith from Yaswada a submerged village to reflect on the trauma of a community after displacement. Yaswada is one of the 12 villages fully affected by Lower Manair Dam (LMD) near Karimnagar, a District Headquarters in Andhra Pradesh, one of the best growing States of India where World Bank designed development activity is in swing. LMD is a component of Sri Ram Sagar Project (SRSP), Stage I. SRSP a major irrigation project across the river Godavari which commenced in 1963 with an originally projected cost of Rs.40.10 crores, was revised in March 1994 to Rs.1,519.15 crore and again updated as of November 1998 for Rs.2,425 crores. The project is envisaged to provide irrigation facilities to 3.92 lakh hector of land in Nizamabad, Karimnagar, Adilabad and Warangal Districts of "backward" Telangana region.

World Bank entered into the project funding after completion of the first component of SRSP (main project) on River Godavari and financed two separate packages from 1971-79 and 1987-94 in first phase. The second phase aid sanctioned in 1997 is still in progress. LMD project work started with the first phase aid in 1971 and was completed by 1981-82 and the project came into full utility by 1986. The purpose of LMD is to augment SRSP water supply by capturing the run off from Manair river’s free catchment and serve as a balancing reservoir for SRSP main reservoir[vi]. LMD was built on Manair a tributary of river Godavari with a catchment area of 6.475 Sq. Km. And 680.46 M. storage capacity. 18 villages were affected by the project where 12 villages were fully submerged and 6 were partly affected by the dam. Almost 7424 hectars of agricultural land was submerged under the dam, which displaced almost 80,000 people. Let us here the agony of the affected in his own words:

"I am Narayana, Kammari Narayana. I am a blacksmith by caste and I belong to Yaswada village, which was submerged under the Lower Manair Dam. The Dam forced us to leave our village and to flee from our own homes and hometowns like birds without destination. We left our places where our forefathers and we lived with pride and dignity as skilled professionals. Our family used to serve the agricultural needs and supply iron-made tools to the entire village. As a young professional I started my traditional career at the age of 8 years. I won the hearts of more than hundred farmers for more than fifty years. Suddenly they announced the construction plan of Lower Manair Dam and a little compensation was thrown on us like alms to beggars. With that meager compensation, along with my wife and only son, I wandered here and there as a beggar and finally settled here.

After a decade of the settlement in this village, I am a stranger; no one recognizes me and my skills. They still look at me with suspicion doubting my skills and credibility. No one comes forward to give me the carpentry work. My own caste people also do not allow me to take up the works from the local farmers because the village is their Vathan. Traditionally the rights have been assigned to their families for generations. In my village I was a king, Every morning dozens of farmers used to wait in queue before my house to sharpen their instruments. Now I am helpless just sitting outside my hut with my dried up furnace and waiting for a customer who visits once in a blue moon, that too, not to sharpen the iron bars or spades but to dig the graves."[vii]

Narayana left his native village Yaswada where he enjoyed a very ‘secure’ life. As a traditional blacksmith he used to extend his services to about hundred farmers and in turn the farming community supplied food grains and other utensils to Narayana’s family. This kind of traditional arrangement of goods and services is known as ‘Jajmani’ system, which is an ancestral right of a community over other communities. After the displacement, the traditional arrangement broke down due to the dispersal of the farming families to different places. Narayana with his meager compensation amount could settle in a new village but the village was failed to provide him any work. He struggled for a decade or more and visited the local farmers, but they refused to give him work because they cannot disown their own blacksmith ignoring the rules of “Jajmani’ system. All these days every morning Narayana used to sit in front of his firm/furnace with a hope that some one may visit him for his services. Now Narayana is no more. His only son is working as a daily wage labourer in an electrical welding and iron moulding shop in Karimnagar town and struggling hard to feed his wife and two children.

This is not only the story of Narayana af Yaswada but also of many of traditional occupational communities of project affected villages of India which are in a similar miserable condition.

In India, life and life chances are shaped by the caste and community rather than individual capabilities and skills. Indian society cannot be compared with Western or any other modern society as far as the social structure is concerned. The structure and composition of Indian society is entirely different and unique in its nature. The society is divided into number of castes. The people of India are widely divided on the basis of community, occupation and tradition. Each caste is an occupational group and a source of survival. Caste in India is not merely a division of society but each division has a social value. Caste in other words is a ‘real group; that is to say a sort of social substance existing independently in the system, like a modern individual2. Besides, one can only succeed by attaching primary importance to certain features like endogamy, administration of justice, specific customs, etc. But caste and its occupation are very much attached to village and ‘Jajmani System’ where exchange of goods and services are hereditary. Because of this relationship, the sociologists and anthropologists who attempted to analyse Indian social structure considered the village as a unit. The sociologists recognized caste and village and their role in conceptualizing the community structure in India. Caste and village both play a very significant role in providing a space to ‘individual’ in Indian society. Without these two the survival of community cannot be imagined.

The story of Narayana clearly shows the contradictions of ‘development’. At the core of these contradictions is a fundamental disconnection. It shows how the economic development initiatives could be indifferent or hostile to social and sustainable development of a person or a community. It further explains how the development paradigm ignores basic human rights considerations, such as the interests of local communities directly depending on the village and natural resources. Economic development still appears to be promised on theoretical models that subordinate social and human rights concerns to development outcomes.

Disappeared Village: Consequences

In India village is not a simple settlement of people. For them, it is life, livelihood, culture, and civilization: it not only provides occupation and income but also a sense of solidarity, support, security and simply it is their own world. In the village social setting people shape their thoughts, traditions, ideas, attitudes, skills, knowledge and lifestyles. It gives position, social status whether it is lower or higher to each person. Each person in the village has concern for others, each activity of village community builds unity and integrity. People share and celebrate each occasion collectively. But displacement simply disturbs the entire fabric of human relations. It destroys the existing modes of production and ways of life social, economical, cultural and political: it affects kinship and community organisation and its networks. It threatens the identities of people, castes and religious practices. The forced evacuation leads to increased socio-cultural and psychological stress and higher morbidity and mortality rates. Population displacement, therefore, disrupts economic and socio-cultural structures of the village. People who are displaced undergo tremendous stress as they lose productive resources, traditional occupations, livelihood sources and common property resources.

The field observations of Yaswada village (submerged in LMD project) reveal the pathetic condition of the Project Affected People. People who shifted to 15 nearby villages in the district are still suffering from various problems and most of them are not yet settled. After 20 years of their settlement, the ' host village' still considers them outsiders. The following major problems were identified in the resettlement of the PAPs of LMD.

1. Inadequate Cash Compensation:

The project authorities pushed the people out of Yaswada from their village by paying inadequate cash mode of compensation. For agricultural lands the project authorities paid Rs. 1360 per acre of dry land and Rs. 2800 per acre of wetland, whereas the oustees have to spend about Rs.10000- 20000 per acre in their resettlement villages. The evacuated appealed in courts against the inadequate payments but the cases are not yet settled even after two decades of their displacement. On the other hand, the story of landless communities and dependent castes of the village is more pathetic. There is no such compensation for them except meager amounts for their house sites. The project authorities estimated the market value at the rate of Rs. 40 per square yard of house site, which is less than a US dollar as per today's currency value. Apart from the compensation, Rs. 5000 was paid to each family as a package of rehabilitation. How can one expect to settle a family with these meager amounts and what would be the future of these families in the process of resettlement?

Most people used this money for the repayment of their old debts and a lifetime of livelihood security or shelter is squandered before they settle in a new place. Thus, most of the villagers were forced into irrevocable destitution. In Yaswada village, out of 587 families only 300 families had own land and rest of the families were landless. Half of the landed families were small and marginal farmers who had less than 5 acres of land. In this project, it is found that more than 60% of families are still vulnerable and unsettled.

2. Disturbed Social Fabric:

The major and unnoticed loss of displacement is disturbance of social fabric. Formation of any village is a historical process and part of civilisation. No doubt, it is the result of people's effort over hundreds of years to shape a village, its culture and tradition. Accordingly, co-existence, mutual dependency, hierarchy and understandings are evolved. A project simply disturbs the well-built social structure and makes the arrangement vulnerable by dislocation of the village.

People of Yaswada suffered from several such problems. The project not only disintegrated the historical arrangement but also disturbed the economic security of its people. The main source of the village income was its land and agriculture. The farming community of the village mostly from Reddy, Kapu and Velama castes used to produce various crops not only sufficient to the village but also surplus to supply to the nearby Karimnagar town. The farming community comprises of 119 Kapu, 105 Reddy and 23 Velama caste families who were the main producers of food grains, vegetables, milk and other agro products. They used to supply the surplus to nearby town every day. Since the village was on the banks of Manair, the farmers used to irrigate their lands through canals and streams managed and maintained by the community. The agriculture of the village was not only self-sufficient but also natural means of production systems were used. For these three major farming castes another set of artisan castes used to support in agriculture. About 36 families belonging to carpenters, smiths, basket makers, and rope makers were fully dependent castes on farming community used to live as cluster groups. These caste groups used to supply various instruments used in agriculture like plough, bullock cart, water pumping machines, ploughshares, pots, baskets, leather articles, ropes etc.

In India every occupation is allotted to a particular caste group. That means every caste group will have its own occupation, which is exclusive and hereditary to that particular caste. No other individual or group should take up a similar job. Adopting, imitating and practicing such profession is not only a taboo but also a crime under the sanctions of village Panchayat (court) norms. Each village in India has its own Panchayat where all these traditional rights of the communities are protected and regulated. The blacksmiths, carpenters, rope makers and potters are traditional artisans who supply goods they make to the farming community and in turn the farmers will shell down some food grains to these artisans in each crop season. This relation is almost permanent and comes from one generation to another on hereditary basis. But, after displacement they have lost their protection and the resettled village neither recognised them nor assimilated them.

3. Eco-system and Occupation:

The village eco-system plays a very crucial role in shaping the community and its activity. People and communities depend on village ecology for their activities both for farm and off-farm income generation. Most of the communities survived by extracting the resources surrounding their villages. Fishing, seasonal fruit gathering, toddy tapping, basket making and several such activities supplement the village economy. Since the village was on the banks of Manair with greenery around the riverbed, there were thousands of wild date and palm trees along the Manair. The toddy brewers used to extract hundreds of litres of toddy from those trees. About 66 families of Goud community of the village who enjoy the hereditary rights over these trees used to supply toddy to villagers as well as the liquor lovers of nearby Karimnagar town. Generations together these families were dependent on the profession and their only source of livelihood has been toddy tapping. Similarly, Medari and Madiga communities of the village used to make baskets for agricultural use by collecting raw material from the trees around the village. Generally, the wild date and palm leaves are used in rope making. In Yaswada 9 Medari and 58 Madiga families were engaged in basket making and rope making respectively. The fishing community is also one of such communities, which live on ecology based resources. As the village was on the riverbank Tenugu community people used to collect fish, gather fruits from the river and its banks.

All such communities simply lost their livelihood after displacement. None of the resettled villages have such ecosystem and no other village accommodated in its fold because the rights over these resources are considered hereditary. These communities have to wait for more than a decade in their resettled village to get the work allotted. In some places the PAPs are still waiting for an assignment related to their community. A skilled person in a specific activity waiting without work for more than two decades can be considered a loss of generation.

4. Loss of Service Rights:

Service rights are primary community rights in Indian village. Each caste will have certain hereditary rights over the families of the village to serve them. For instance a washer man family will wash cloths of several other families in the village by which they earn their bread. This is a traditional arrangement, which cannot be denied or violated from both. For the service rendered by them the community will get an annual payment mostly in the form of kind. In a way it is a structural adjustment, which guaranties the livelihood. Similarly barbers. As a community barber attends the needs of villager and get his annual lump sums. These communities generally distribute the households proportionately and extend the services accordingly.

In yaswada village there were 28 washer men families and 9 Barber families, which used to attend the needs of 587 families of the village. After the submergence of the village the village household were dispersed and resettled in different villages according to their convenient. The service community also dispersed by choosing their convenient place and settled there. But in the new village they faced very tough time to get work. Since every village has its own workmen to serve them these newly settlers could not get household to extend their services. In Malkapur village where two washer men settled after the displacement of Yaswada village were have to wait for a decade to get work allocations.

5. Loss of Common Property Resources:

The rehabilitation packages may compensate for the loss of individual properties but not for common property resources like waterbeds, grass lands, forests etc. Particularly sheep breeders, cattle breeders and fishermen suffered a lot because of the loss of the common property resources. In Yaswada, there were about 35 shepherd families and they have resettled in six different villages along with their sheep. The unfortunate situation is that the host villages never allowed them to share their common property resources like grazing lands and waterbeds, which are essential for sheep grazing. The shepherds were forced to sell their sheep and choose some other occupation. Most of these traditional sheep grazers converted into wage labourers and agricultural labourers. Some of them acquired a piece of land by selling the sheep.

A shepherd is not a simple breeder of sheep. He has the knowledge of sheep breeding; he knows how to feed them and how to protect them from certain diseases. After the shift from his occupation, his experience and knowledge become useless and more over he has to train him-self in new occupations. The forced change of occupation and methods of earning a livelihood can be a source of trauma. In fact, people prefer to follow professions they are familiar with. Where changes are made they are usually made on a voluntary basis, especially in the middle of life it is not easy to give up their old talents and adopt new. There is also an additional trauma of having to adopt a profession in which they are not trained or which does not suit them.

6.Insecurity and Trauma:

Moving to an alien land from their own land is nothing but an adventure. Particularly the rural communities that have never had such exposure to the outside world are placed in a very insecure position. It further forces them to re-socialise according to the conditions and relations in the settled village. Although people of Yaswada settled in different villages as groups (at least 5 to 10 families), they have faced several problems related to adjustment and adaptation. People of the host village used to suspect them for years together and avoid them in social gatherings. In most of the villages, the oustees stated, they were not allowed to take water from village well or pond for decades. They had to wait till the last person of the host village takes the water. There have been many clashes between the host community and the PAPs for simple reasons. This kind of insecurity, problems and conflicts developed certain level of inferiority, submissiveness and social alienation among the settlers.

7. Denial of Basic Rights:

The social tensions and settlement problems adversely affected the living standards of the displaced people and consequently their future prospects. After resettlement, getting an admission in a local school was a major issue for the children of the migrants. Since local schools did not accommodate their children, the settlers had no other option except to stop their education. Although there is a provision to provide certain amenities like schools, dispensaries, roads, community centres etc., the adequacy and appropriateness of these amenities could not be determined. For instance, these facilities were not provided in the villages where people from Yaswada settled.

Ironically, the settlers were denied democratic rights like voting and participation in the electoral process for more than a decade because their names were not entered in the electoral lists. They were denied ration cards on which the subsidised food grains were supplied. The PAPs had to wait for years for electrification, water connection and several such minimum facilities. Central Water Commission, the supreme authority of water resource development in India itself reported that the provision of amenities left much to be desired (CWC 1995).


In the light of these experiences, a thorough study is needed on the project-affected people in India. Especially, caste and community should be considered important along with the category of tribe. As a principle, large scale displacement should be avoided. If it is really needed the displaced people should be rehabilitated in their chosen livelihoods as far as possible. Where land is available, even landless agricultural labourers have to be assured and given land on relocation. One important mechanism for implementing the land strategy is to identify several possible relocation sites to provide alternative choices to the displaced.

The productive potential, quality of soil, availability of irrigation water and locational advantages of new relocation sites should be ideally better or equivalent to the lost sites in order to make it comfortable and attractive to the settlers. Furthermore, in selecting sites attention should be paid to possibility of ecological resources to suit and relocate the communities depending on traditional eco-based occupations. For this, a clear understanding of and concern for social structure of the village and its cultural, social and economic systems is inevitably required. To minimise the loss, the project authorities should adopt community perspective and recognise the importance of each community in a village social set up.


CWC. 1995. Environmental Monitoring Committee: annual Report (1993-94), Central Water commission, Government of India

Fernandes, W. (2004) Rehabilitaiton Policy for the Displaced" Economic and Political Weekly, March 20, 2004.

Fernandes, W. Enakshi Ganguly Tukral (1989) Development Displacement and Rehabilitation, Indian Social Institute, New Delhi

Kothari, Smithu (1996) ‘Whose Nation? The Displaced as Victims of Development’ Economic and Political Weekly, June 15.

Mankodi, K. (1989) Displacement Rehabilitation: Problems and prospects. In Walter Fernandes and Eenakshi Ganguly Tukral (eds) Development Displacement and Rehabilitation, Indian Social Institute, New Delhi

Mayer, A.C. (1960) Caste and Kinship in Central India; A Village and its Region, London, Routledge,

Parasu Raman, S. (1999) the Development Dilemma: displacement in India. Institute of Social Studies, The Hague.

Roy, Arundhati. (1999) ‘Greater Common Good: Human Cost of Big Dams’, Frontline, June 2004

World commission on Dams (WCD), (2000)

(i) Large dams India’s experience: Final Report prepared by R. Rangachari,
Nirmal Sengupta, Ramaswamy R. Iyar, Pranab Benerjee and Shekhar Singh.

(ii) Dams, Displacement, Policy and Law in India: Ravi Hemadri, Harsh Mander, Vijay Nagaraj

[i] Annually about ten million people around the world are being displaced as a result of development projects. In India, latest estimates (Fernandes: 2004) conclude that the number is certainly tens of millions and estimates of dam-caused and project-affected displaced people alone is about 40 million since independence. It is claimed that many of these people have never been rehabilitated. Thousands of villages submerged under these dams have never been rebuilt.

[ii] In fact the country lacks a database on number and type of project-affected, displaced and rehabilitated people. This researcher had to depend on estimates based on secondary sources for the data. They begin with an estimate of 185 lakh DP/DAP in 1951-81 which became 21.3 millions in 1951-1990. They then extrapolated data procured from comprehensive primary data based studies on all displacement from 1951 to 1995 in six states and preliminary data from six others and arrived at a probable figure of 50-60 millions till today (Fernandes 2004: 1193).

[iii] Because of this, only a third of the DPs/.PAPs of planned development have been resettled. The studies on resettlement pattern of DAPs statewide show the implications of resettlement. In Orissa, a state where large dams were built in 1950-60, only 35.27% were settled (Fernandes and Asif 1997: 135). In Andhra Pradesh 28. 82%of the displaced people 1951-1995 have been resettled and in Goa they are 33.23% 1965-1995DP (Fernandes and Naik 2001: 62). In Kerala, the state known for its natural resources a very low 13.18 % DP were resettled (Murickan 2003: 185-189).

[iv] See Vandana Shiva in association with J. Bandyopadhyay · Pandurang Hegde · B.V. Krishnamurthy John Kurien · G. Narendranath · Vanaja Ramprasad, S.T.S. Reddy, (1991) ‘Ecology and the Politics of Survival, Sage Publication, India

[v] To consider a typical example, the fact finding committee on Srisailam project 1986) found that the replacement value of one acre of dry land was around Rs. 5000, and for one acre of wet land was Rs. 13,800. In this way, the amount paid as compensation was five times less than the amount that would be required by the oustees to purchase agricultural land of equivalent quality and quantity.

[vi] World Bank document, Report No.16336 – Staff Appraisal Report (India). Third Andhra Pradesh Irrigation Project, April 1-25, 1997. Agriculture and Water Operations Division. South Asia Country Department II.

[vii] Kammari Narayana cried loudly narrating his story when the researcher visited his place in 1996, as a part of his fieldwork for a documentary on ‘Displacement’ of Lower Manair Dam outskirts in Malkapur village near Karimnagar town.



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