Large industrial projects require land leading to some amount of displacement VAL’s land acquisition planning for the Project aimed at minimising displacement, minimum utilisation of agriculture land and maximum conservation of green cover and water bodies.
There are stringent rules and regulations in India around displacing people. Lanjigarh area is a Schedule V area as per the special provision made in the Indian Constitution; as such sale and purchase of land of Schedule V areas can be undertaken only by Government bodies for developmental projects as well as for public projects. The land acquisition was carried out by Industrial Development Corporation (IDCO), a government body, in accordance with the R&R policy -2003 announced by the Government of Orissa which was based on guidelines outlined in the National R&R Policy.
The fundamental requirement of consultation has been carried out as part of stipulated framework of India, by conducting gram panchayat (local governments at the village or small town level) meeting for all the panchayats covering 29 villages. This consultation process was exclusively for acquisition of the land required for the alumina refinery (2060 acres), red mud and ash pond and other associated facilities. The land acquired in this process consisted of 80% non-agricultural land, 12% semi-agricultural land, 6% total agricultural land and 2% residential land.
VAL’s R&R efforts are focused on creating sustainability. As a first step, in consultation with the collector and the community, nearly 10% of the compensation for land acquisition was given by cheque and the rest of the amount was deposited in post office fixed deposits ensuring a consistent source of income for the displaced families. The compensations paid were better than comparable transactions. Of the 121 displaced families, 75 opted for employment and are already inducted on the company rolls after providing required training. 46 displaced persons opted for one time cash payment in lieu of employment.
Individual communities have been allotted houses in one cluster, to maintain their cultural heritage, in the rehabilitation colony, Vedanta Nagar, a modern township built by Vedanta. The colony consists of Pucca (permanent) houses with an area of 45 sq mts each, suitable for the displaced persons and their families and offers facilities like electricity, water, playground and sanitation. In addition, one-time cash compensation was also paid to people who were not displaced but have been affected by way of acquisition of part of their land.
The land acquisition process also covered the rights of “encroachers” those using but not
owning who were compensated as per the Orissa Prevention of Land Encroachment Act
(this act defines encroachers as those using but not having legal rights on the land). The process
included verification of claims of “encroachers” through substantiation of proof of
occupancy (of the claimant) for the last 10 years and validation of the same by the Land
Acquisition Officer. Rights of 13 “encroachers” were reported in this process, of which 12
cases were recognized by the Land Acquisition Officer as valid, who were then
Generating Employment Opportunities
With the inception of the industrial project of Lanjigarh Alumina refinery in 2004, many opportunities became available for the people of the area. During construction, nearly 10,000 jobs were created which stopped migration of the local people outside Orissa. Similarly, the project has provided ample opportunities for budding entrepreneurs to start their own small enterprises in various fields such as hotels, soap manufacturing, transportation and others.
The Lanjigarh Operations and Maintenance have generated a wide array of direct and indirect jobs. Of the approximately 3,000 persons working directly and indirectly with the plant, nearly 70% are from Orissa. From Kalahandi District alone more than 800 people have found employment. Besides this, nearly 80 people are working as service providers, contractors and in various other assignments. Moreover, nearly 3,000 indirect job opportunities have been created in field such as raw material handling, transportation, logistic support, hotels and others for the people of Kalahandi, Rayagada and Orissa, leading to the socio-economic development of the region.