Human Rights Violation In Development Project
An introduction to the film by Alex Ekka*
Police repression and administrative high-handedness is becoming a common phenomenon in the country today, when the project-affected people protest against development-induced displacement and demand justice on account the serious consequences. It’s but an irony that instead of ameliorating the sufferings of the displaced and the project affected people and working for their humane and just resettlement and rehabilitation, the Government machinery resorts to brutal violence on them whose lives are already at stake on account of the development projects. This is a clear case of human rights violation. While such acts of the state sponsored barbarism are to be condemned and the guilty punished by the court of law, one must understand how such crimes are committed by the law enforcing authorities on the just demands and rights of the people so that public opinion is created against such oppression.
In a recent orientation programme to the Govt. officials from various Ministries on resettlement and rehabilitation of the project displaced and affected people, organized by Council for Social Development and held at Indian nternational Centre, New Delhi, the author was asked to present some case studies on the phenomenon and impact of displacement. He showed the participants a video film on human rights violation at the behest of development projects, entitled “When people assert their rights over land, water and forest DEVELOPMENT FLOWS FROM THE BARREL OF THE GUN”. It was a video clipping of five cases of police tyranny on the displaced and the project affected people in five different states. They were the Bauxite Mining at Kashipur in Orissa, the Commercial Harbour at Umbergaon in Gujarat, the Steel Plant at Nagarnar in Chhattisgarh, the World Bank Forestry Project at Mehendikhera in Madhya Pradesh and the Koel-Karo Hydel Power Project in Jharkhand. Ten minutes of each video clipping was so powerful that the viewers were moved nearly to tears. There was a good discussion on the film at the end and a desire was expressed that greater awareness to such realities be brought about in the civil society for appropriate action. It indeed was an eye opener to all the present.
An effort is made here to present these case studies in the written form to understand how the state repression is same all over the country in displacement situations. The content of the presentation is taken almost verbatim from the script of the film to make it more real and effective. But certainly nothing like viewing the film itself to understand the extent and nature of human rights violation all in the name of national development. This video film is directed and produced by Biju Toppo and Meghnath of AKHRA, Jharkhand. Dr. Ram Dayal Munda is the overall narrator. He describes and comments on each of the cases briefly. The rest of the story is told by a number of social activists, professionals and the victims themselves.
Jharkhand – India