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Friday, December 3, 2010

Development-induced displacement

Development-induced displacement -


evelopment and displacement is the forcing of communities and individuals out of their homes, often also their homelands, for the purposes of economic development. It is a subset of forced migration. It has been historically associated with the construction of dams for hydroelectric power and irrigation purposes but also appears due to many other activities, such as mining and the creation of military installations, airports, industrial plants, weapon testing grounds, railways, road developments, urbanization, conservation projects, forestry, etc.

Since Independence, development projects under India's Five-Year plans have displaced about 500,000 persons each year--evicted from their lands by direct administrative actions of government. This figure does not include those deprived of their livelihoods by the expansion of large estate monoculture production, or those deprived of their livelihoods by project related natural resource extraction, urban evictions, or by the relocation of other displacement victims. Estimates of the total number of those displaced by "development" since independence reaches as high 40 million people. India's recent thrust to open itself to the global economy and rely more on market forces will surely accelerate the displacement.

Hydroelectric and irrigation projects are the largest source of displacement and destruction of habitat. Other major sources are mines, thermal and nuclear power plants, industrial complexes, military installations, weapons testing grounds, railways, roads, and the expansion of reserved forest areas, sanctuaries and parks.

Development-induced displacement is a social problem affecting multiple levels of human organization, from tribal and village communities to well-developed urban areas.

Development-induced displacement or the forced migration in the name of development is affecting more and more people as countries move from developing to developed nations. The people that face such migration are often helpless, suppressed by the power and laws of nations.

The lack of rehabilitation policies for migrants means that they are often compensated only monetarily - without proper mechanisms for addressing their grievances or political support to improve their livelihoods. While the rehabilitation policy clearly specifies land for land, the displaced people have been given cash. There seems to be little emphasis on community rehabilitation and people from one village have settled in different places. Cases of corruption and not being paid compensation are rife.


Displaced people often internalize a sense of helplessness and powerlessness because of their encounter with the powerful external world, although there are also several examples of active resistance movements against development-induced displacement.

In every category, particularly among marginalized groups, women are the worst hit and pay the highest price of development.

A study carried out by the national commission for women in India (NCW) on the impact of displacement on women reveals that violence against women is increased. An increase in alcoholism due to displacement has led to a marked rise in domestic violence in India.In the Lincoln Park Community of Chicago,Illinois,where Jose(Cha-Cha)Jimenez founded the human rights Latino organization:Young Lords,Mayor Richard J. Daley displaced tens of thousands Puerto Ricans and the poor.This displacement helped to proliferate growing street gangs.Today these gangs enterprises with murder for hire,arson for profit and drug sales as its prime motivation.Displacement has made men feel helpless or insecure and turned women and children into scapegoats. Displacement also leads to deterioration in health and high mortality rates as services in those selected areas are the first to be cut.The nutrition and health of women, which is worse than that of men even under normal circumstances, is bound to go down in the event of an overall worsening in health caused by displacement.

Displacement results in dismantling production systems, severing trade and market links, desecrating ancestral sacred zones, graves, and temples, scattering kinship groups and extended families, and weakening cultural systems of self-management and control. The consequences are especially severe for women. They lose access to the fuel, fodder and food they traditionally collected for their households from common lands. They thus face increased pauperization and are thrust into the margins of the labor market.

Displacement and Tribal Communities

Though India's tribal people make up roughly 7.5 percent of the population, over 40 percent of those displaced from 1950 to 1990 were from tribal communities. Since 1990 the figure has risen to 50 percent. Planners and administrators invariably capitalize on and manipulate the relatively weaker socio-economic and political position of most of the people facing displacement. Their numbers are underestimated, they are treated indifferently and only minimal cash compensation, if at all, is paid. They are rarely granted security of tenure on alternative developed land sites. All too often after a painful and traumatic period of establishing a new lifestyle, they are informed they must move again to make way for yet another project. Despite the scale of the displacement and the efforts of some governmental and independent groups, resettlement efforts continue to be shoddy and grossly inadequate.


Humanitarian aid agencies and government programs should target their efforts when intervening to assist victims of forced economic displacement,to ensure their work does not run counter to processes aimed at addressing the fundamental roots of the conflict. The Overseas Development Institute advocates the search for durable solutions to the recovery of displaced persons which go beyond short-term return, relocation and local integration processes.


In the post-Independence period, progress, national self-sufficiency, industrialism, and large development projects were seen as synonymous. Carried by the euphoria of nation building, most "sacrifices" sought by the rulers were widely seen as legitimate, justified as being for the "national good." Given the number of displacements and the plight suffered by the displaced, many are now asking: whose nation is it? Whose good is being served?

A common question from people facing displacement is that while precise details exist regarding the technical and economic aspects of the projects, backed by scores of professionals, why is there never a plan for them? Why are they never consulted?

Even where government does attempt to address its responsibility to the displaced, there is an underlying assumption that since displacement is inevitable, the need is to "deal" with the trauma, not to question the project, much less the development model, that is causing the displacement. No one considers that perhaps the current pattern of economic development invoked to justify the forced evictions of people is itself incompatible with the goals of equity and social security.

It is time to recognize that the projects in which massive public investments are being made involve not only the harnessing of natural resources such as land, water, minerals, and forests, they also alter the existing distribution, use, access to, and control over natural resources among different sections of society. This raises vital issues concerning fairness, equity and justice.

An improvement in the lives of those whom a project otherwise imposes severe costs in order to create benefits for others should be considered an entitlement, not an act of reluctant generosity--a basic test of project benefit. While the first goal should be to find alternatives that cause minimal displacement, in those instances where displacement is inevitable, it is imperative that the full costs of rehabilitation be internalized into the project cost.

Biju PR,Assistant Professor in Poltical Science,Govt Brennen College,Thalassery

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