“Doing away with Social Impact Assessment for irrigation projects not acceptable”

The National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) on Wednesday hit out at the United Progressive Alliance and the National Democratic Alliance charging them with “colluding” to dilute some of the progressive provisions of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2013.

Alleging a “quid pro quo” between the UPA and the NDA for getting the legislation passed, the Alliance said not to make the Social Impact Assessment (SIA) applicable to irrigation projects and to further dilute the land-for-land provision for displaced people in irrigation projects were “not acceptable” and “will be challenged at every level.”

The removal of the retrospective clause would hurt the farmers, workers, Dalits and tribals most who were awaiting compensation.

“The provisions had been included as a result of a three-decades struggle against 30 big dams, 135 medium dams and 3,000 small dams on the Narmada and its tributaries in the riparian States of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat. Together, these dams affect nearly 5 million people who have been uprooted, displaced or have suffered loss of livelihood and mode of life,” said NAPM convener Medha Patkar.

“To take out the SIA is most shocking,” said Himanshu Thakker of SANDRP. “Even the World Bank recognises that there should be Social Impact Assessment of irrigation projects,” he told The Hindu.

The NAPM is a conglomeration of several people’s movements in various States.

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