India's Relief and Rehablitation policy lauded by World Bank

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New Delhi, Jul 4 (UNI) The World Bank has lauded India's newly crafted Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy for displaced people as ''comprehensive, visionary and enlightened.'' A presentation on the salient features of the policy drafted by the Ministry of Rural Development was made before the World Bank experts in Washington who took notice of the many facets that make it a one-of-its-kind policy anywhere in the world.

The presentation broadly outlined the factors and circumstances that led to a complete revamp of the earlier 2003 policy and the evolutionary process that heralded the beginning of a new era for the displaced. The process of formulation of the new policy -- the extensive consultations with State governments, industry representatives, civil society organizations, social activists, in a word, all stakeholders -- was especially highlighted.

So was the fact that India is now moving rapidly towards transforming the policy into legislation with a Parliamentary Standing Committee finalising its recommendations and two Bills likely to be introduced in the forthcoming Session of Parliament.

Thereafter, the presentation moved to the benefit package for the affected families. This included free house site to the affected families, land for land to the extent available, rehabilitation grant equal to 750 days of agricultural wages, option to take part of this in the form of shares or debentures, fishing rights priority, development grant for allocated wastelands and cost of registration of allotted land to be borne by the requiring body.

Moreover, cattle owner families would get minimum of Rs.15,000/- for construction of cattle shed, employment to at least one person from project affected family subject to availability, skill up gradation training, preference in various economic opportunities including outsourcing of contracts, engagement of labourers, scholarships to eligible persons, monthly subsistence allowance, monthly pension to the vulnerable and the compensation has to be paid before displacement.

The applicability of the Policy not only to those whose lands are being acquired but to all those who are involuntarily displaced on a permanent basis for any reason was also emphasised. Attention to the provisions for Social Impact Assessment, effective, monitoring arrangements and the grievance redressal mechanism was drawn during the presentation. International experts including sector managers, regional coordinators, social development specialists, quality assurance professionals, energy and water experts, and land management practitioners who constituted the audience, applauded the presentation and termed the Indian initiative as the most comprehensive and far-reaching policy in the world.

UNI AJ RR BD1941

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