Social Assessment of
Rehabilitation & Resettlement:
In 1998, Development Alternatives formulated a social assessment and management plan for Baranj Coal Mining Project in Bhadrawati near Chandrapur, Maharashtra. The project was to be implemented in partnership by Central India Coal Company (CICCO), a joint venture company of the Ispat Group of Industries and Rio Tinto (India) and Central India Power Company (CIPCO). It was agreed that CICCO would produce coal for captive consumption by the 1084 MW thermal power station of Central India Power Company (CIPCO). It was estimated that 5 million tonnes of coal would be required by CIPCO for the next 20 years. In order to extract the coal, CICCO planed to acquire approximately 1523 hectares of land, on which a population of 1269 belonging to 226 families was spread over hamlets of 3 villages namely Baranj Mokasa, Chak Baranj and Chichordi. The distribution of population followed a distinct pattern with those belonging to Manora, Chichordi and Baranj Mokasa (Old and New) being primarily agriculturists who owned agricultural land. Those belonging to Old Pipalbodi, New Pipalbodi and Balaji Nagar were migrants from states like Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and were employed at the ordinance factory.
Since the primary requirement of the project was complete evacuation of all families residing inside the lease boundary; the most effected in terms of there livelihoods would be the residents of gaothans (hamlets), directly or indirectly dependent on the agricultural land. Apart from the direct economic factors, there were innumerable socio-cultural issues that were associated with the displacement. Thus owing to the seriousness of the issue and the complexity involved, a detailed Social Assessment and Management Plan (SAMP) was prepared, which would address all relevant socio-economic issues and also guide Project Implementation Agency (PIA) to implement the project. The plan consisted of a socio-economic database, cultural and political situation of the PAPs (Project Affected Peoples), priorities for Rehabilitation and Resettlement, identification of income generation options and the support service providers to ensure long term sustainability of the programme. A multidisciplinary team carried out the study and collected both qualitative and quantitative information from 234 households. Inspite of the resistance from the villagers, the team conducted several group meetings in the villages and tried to understand the reason for their resistance to the Rehabilitation & Resettlement process. One of the causes of resistance among the villagers was that a few families had already experienced rehabilitation and the proposed resettlement was perceived in the context of the cultural history of repeated relocation and resettlement. The team also held discussions with key persons and local Non Government Organisations (NGO’s) to assess their possible role in the implementation of SAMP.
Relevance of Social Assessment and Management Plan (SAMP)
Involuntary Resettlement for any development project adversely affects the way of life of the people. The loss of occupation, loss of shelter, loss of access to natural resources and loss of social bonds are synonymous with large scale developmental projects which demand displacement of a section of population. The population getting affected by such projects need to be given special attention to protect their rights, minimise their losses and to help them to restore a secure means of livelihood. The need of SAMP comes from a realisation that the PAPs cannot cope with the fast changing socio-economic scenario caused due to the displacement. There are a host of factors that play a crucial role in making the problems associated with rehabilitation and resettlement extremely complex. The loss of land of a service class is entirely different from that of marginal farmers whose only means of livelihood is agriculture. Land for land is the best way to handle such issues but the problem remains the same if this arrangement does not materialise due to improper "barter" (the quality/size of land). The only way then to mitigate the issue is by monetary compensation, which too does not help much since cash runs out quickly leaving the PAPs in a situation full of insecurity and hardships. The loss of agriculture creates different levels of impact among the family members. For the head of the household who is the owner of land, loss of land means the loss of social-economic security while among the children it is the loss of ancestral property. Women, who play an active role and contribute in a major way to agricultural produce, will be left with no work except routine household jobs. Moreover, loss of the social environment that is knitted into the complete fabric of society, remains an irreparable hole.
Impact of Mining on PAPs Livelihoods
The degree of impact due to the mining would definitely be different from one group of PAPs to another. The PAPs under fragile groups were ones who are most affected by the acquisition and therefore needed maximum attention by the Project Implementing Agency (PIA). They would be unable to support themselves financially after the acquisition. The restoration of the economic status of this group by providing a suitable means of livelihood should have been the first priority of the PIA. Vulnerable groups of PAPs are those who could sustain themselves for a limited time period without support services from the PIA but in the long run would slip into the fragile category in absence of sustained assistance from PIA. The PAPs having a secure means of livelihood, like a job in the Ordinance Factory, will not be affected financially due to the acquisition and were thus categorised as Stable.
Proposed Approach to Rehabilitation & Resettlement Process
The approach suggested by the research team implementing SAMP was to help establish Income Generation packages to PAPs with a full support system. A source of steady income would enable them to maintain, if not improve, the standards of living currently enjoyed by them. Restoration of income source for the PAPs could be done either absorbing them in activities directly or indirectly related to the mine or involving them in various production or service based income generation options. There were sources of finance and training available to develop sustainable income generation programmes but the underlying factors needed careful considerations. The majority of the PAPs are agriculturists. Shifting of occupations from their traditional mode to business oriented occupation would have been a major hurdle for them. Trainings could be provided but not everyone would be able to make full use of it. Literacy levels were high but the levels of education were not high enough to enable them to manage a production / service unit by themselves. Chandrapur region has a limited demand of goods and services and thus the marketing of the products produced by the PAPs would be a major bottleneck. The financial condition of the PAPs did not allow them to take high financial risks associated with such options. The approach suggested towards the restoration of sources of income by the PIA was to try and absorb maximum number of PAPs in the mining operations, directly or indirectly. For contractual jobs, the PIA could prevail on the contractor to employ PAPs at every step starting from the provision of training in requisite skills, helping them financially and establishing marketing linkages etc.
The perception of PAPs and Status
of the Project
The PAPs were not in favour of the project. The main points of contention were provision of jobs in the mine - which for them implied a secure means of livelihood, valuation of land and homesteads. The prevailing atmosphere in the villages was charged with mistrust resulting mainly because of a lack of transparency and poor flow of communication between the PAPs and the PIA. Proper attention and action on the above mentioned issues was the best way to resolve the crisis. The DA team suggested that there was a need for the PIA to gain the confidence of the PAPs through a comprehensive community development programme. But ultimately the project was called off from the area due to objection of Ministry of Defence (MoD). The Ministry did not approve of coal mining activity in the vicinity of the ordinance factory because there were chances of damage to the high tech and sensitive equipment in the factory due to proposed underground mining. q