Acres of land used in State for building dams, mines, says book
SHILLONG: As many as 1,36,000 people were displaced or deprived of livelihood from land used for various projects in Meghalaya, but proper rehabilitation was not carried out, said a book based on the first study on the extent of displacement in State due to development projects from 1947 till 2010.
Not less than 2,40,000 acres were used in Meghalaya during these decades for construction of dams, industries, mines, defence, transport and other projects, said the book.
The book by North Eastern Social Research Centre (NESRC), Guwahati authored by Walter Fernandes, Veronica Pala, Gita Bharali and Bitopi Dutta was released by Prof. G. Singhaiah, Pro-Vice Chancellor of NEHU, Tura on Friday last during the seminar on ‘development-induced-displacement’ in Meghalaya organized by Loyola College, Williamnagar.
Commenting on displacement, Pala from the Department of Economics, NEHU, Shillong said that the present approach to development and economic growth is mainly based on the view that infrastructure building is the key.
“However, in the process, people are dislocated, impoverished and marginalized. A hypothesis emerged that one class pays the price for the development of another class,” she said.
According to Pala, the researchers are in no way against development. “We need to pt for inclusive development that combines economic growth with human progress. The present pattern excludes human beings in favour of economic growth. That has to be rectified”, Pala said Sunny Augustine, Principal, Loyola College drew attention to the unsustainable use of natural resources in Meghalaya in the context of reckless coal mining and called for the care of the environment.
Vaishali A. Sangma who commented on coal mining in Meghalaya said that while searching for profit, one has also to take care of the environment, but this is neglected as thousands of acres of forest as well as agricultural land are destroyed by mining.
Caroline Marak, faculty at the Tura Campus of NEHU, added that Meghalaya needs a different type of development and it is a challenge for every person in the State.
Marak reminded the displacement of the Garos from the time of the partition. “This was intensified by development projects and we have to find alternate type of development pattern to rectify it”, Marak said.
Presenting the second study on the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) in Meghalaya, Melvil Pereira, Director, NESRC said that the scheme has shown some positive results. Citing the recent data from the National Family Health Survey (2015-16), he noted that on all health indicators the State had shown positive growth. The health interventions of ICDS – immunization, health-check up and referrals – came in for considerable appreciation from the pregnant and nursing mothers, the primary beneficiaries of the scheme. The findings revealed the need for spacious anganwadi centres, increase in remuneration for anganwadi workers (AWW), increase of quantity of food for children and improving the quality of food by providing local dishes. On the health front, the need for availability of health workers was felt. There are limited numbers of Auxiliary Nursing Midwives (ANMs) and they find it hard to reach the remote villages of Meghalaya, the report said.