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Public hearing on displaced organised at Koraput: 'Historical injustice towards the displaced', says jury
A day-long public hearing of the displaced people was organized at the campus of Tribal Museum in Koraput of Odisha state on February 27, 2018.

More than 100 people displaced by different projects of undivided Koraput district such as Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Upper Kolab Dam, Indravati Dam, Machhakund Dam, Balimela Dam, NALCO Mining and Industry, Mining and Industry at Kashipur, Tleengiri Dam etc. participated in the public hearing.

Many displaced people deposed before an esteemed jury comprising of Prof Manoranjan Mohanty, Dr Bidyut Mohanty, Prof Golak Bihari Nath, Nrusingh Charan Panigrahi and Lingaraj.

Trilochan Muduli, a Paraja tribal youth who is heading HAL Displaced Sangh, deposed on how HAL and the police are harassing them and trying to suppress their just demand for land right and proper compensation.

Bijay Upadhayay, an activist working in the Machhkund Dam area, deposed that displaced people have been struggling since 1950. He cited many examples of tribal misery due to displacement and suppression of their land rights.

Prof Manoranjan Mohanty, who delivered judgment on behalf of the jury, said the sufferings and human rights abuses of displaced people, particularly of the tribal people, are very painful. It has come out clearly that the rights of the displaced people have not been given due consideration. Saying that it is "historical injustice", Prof Mohanty hoped that the government will be more serious, proactive and considerate in ensuring just and proper resettlement of the displaced tribals and other people.

Lingaraj, another member of the jury, said that the persons displaced - due to various projects like mining, industry, dams, forest conservation - are demanding for the proper rehabilitation and re-settlement. However, their proper resettlement and rehabilitation hasn't yet been achieved.

Prafulla Samantara of Lok Shakti Abhiyan, which facilitated organization of the public hearing, said that the objective of the public hearing is to hear grievances of people who are victims of forced displacement in the undivided Koraput district of Odisha. This will help in building a common understanding on status of rehabilitation and resettlement; and help in developing a common strategy for proper rehabilitation and resettlement and to suggest evidence based arguments for justice to the affected people.

Sandeep Patnaik, State Representative of Pune-based National Centre for Advocacy Studies and a co-organiser of the event, said that the evidences showed serious failures in proper resettlement and rehabilitation of people displaced by many projects in the undivided Koraput. Many cases of failure in upholding human rights and dignity of Adivasi and other displaced people have also came quite starkly. They will show the way to deal with the acute problems of displacement and displaced people.

Advocate Gupteswar Panigrahy, Pratap Pattnaik of Upper Kolab Bistapith Sangha, Puspanjali Satapathy of Vasundhara and Development Activist Bidyut Mohanty also presented their respective evidences of the misery and oppression of displaced people in the undivided Koraput district.

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