This research is conducted in Thervoy Kandigai village, is located in the Tiruvallur District, Tamil Nadu. The total population of the village is approximately 5000 out of which 90% belong to SC/St category. There are approximately 3000 voters and nearly 950 households. SIPCOT has forcibly acquired 1127 acres of Meikkal Poromboke land (grazing land) at survey number 32/2 and 33/2 under Thervoy Kandigai Panchayat which for 100s of years has been a Common Property Resource for the villagers.
In 2008, even the Forest Department had planned afforestation in the area under Social Forestry. Despite Gramsabha resolutions against the land acquisition, innumerable protests, including illegal detention of protesting villagers, Govt. of Tamil Nadu and SIPCOT had gone ahead and acquired the land in the area. Michelin, the French tyre company and other industries including glass manufacturing companies are proposed to be set up in the acquired land.
The specific objectives of the study includes the socio-economic condition of the respondents, their occupational background, livelihood conditions, resource base of the respondents’ family , cropping patterns of land holding families and an assessment / estimate of income from agricultural produce, social capital status, Common Property Resources and the extent of their getting affected due to acquisition, Impoverishment of Risks due to the land acquisition, the attitude of the respondents towards acquisition, the psychological impact of the respondents as a result of loss of Common Property Resources due to SIPCOT Project, and elicit the rehabilitation opinion from the respondents.
The research design is Descriptive type. Triangulation was applied using both Quantitative and Qualitative methods. Interview schedule was used as a tool for data collection to interview a sample size of 150 respondents. Focus Group Discussions were conducted among the Project Affected People (Old aged women and Youth) and Impoverishment Risk Assessment was made using (Michael Carnea, 1995) model. Systematic Random Sampling was used to identify respondents in Thervoy Kandigai village.
Some of the key findings are that the mean age of the respondents was 40 years, 84 percent of PAP’S were male respondents, 97 percent of the respondents are following Hinduism, SC and ST constituted to 72 percent of respondents, 84 percent of respondents are in the Nuclear Family, 95.34 percent of the respondents reside in the same village as ancestral property, 61.33 percent of the respondent are living in medium size family.
64 percent respondents have at least one employment in the family, 84 percent of the respondents are earning below Rs. 5000 as Monthly Income, 36 percent of the respondents are living in hut house, 60 percent of the respondents family size is medium (4-6 members) living in hut house is 16-67 percent, 89.33 percent of the lands are family properties (Ancestral lands), 59.33 percent of the respondents Owning agricultural land and 40.67 percent of the respondents do not own agricultural land. They are non-agricultural labourers, 60 percent respondents have posses irrigated land, 24 percent of the respondents cultivated only 0.1-0.5 acres of land in their village, 57.33 percent of the respondents have cultivable land, 42 percent respondents cultivated the next major crops are in order as follows: Rice, Groundnut, Chilly, Gingili and other food grains, 91.33 percent of respondents use lake irrigation, 79.33 percent respondents do not have agricultural implements, 16.67 percent of the respondent’s livestock worth is more than Rs.40000, 59.34 percent respondents use livestock only for domestic purpose, 92 percent of the respondents did not have any saving habit, 62 percent respondents do not receive debts, 12 percent receive debt mainly for the capital expenditure for agriculture.
Water and sanitation:
100 percent said they get the water from the Government pipe, 100 percent of the respondents are practicing open defecation, 100 percent of the respondents are satisfied with relationship in the community, 20.67 percent of the respondents said they will attend the Grama Sabha meeting regularly in the village.
Common Property Resources:
Ninety eight percent of the respondents use fire wood, 65.33 of the respondents said that they obtain grazing land free of cost which they use for feeding their cattle, 88.67 percent of the respondents said that they get wild fruits / pods from the Common Property Resources, 80.67 percent of the respondents use the medical herbs present in the project proposed area, 68.67 percent of the respondent uses irrigation facilities form the lakes, ponds, water catchment’s area and tanks and ponds for cultivation and 54 percent of the respondents get gainful employment by using the naturally available Common Property Resources.
Impoverishment Risks in the Project Affected Area of Thervoy Kandigai Village. if the project strikes the area 99.33 percent of the respondents said that the drinking water would decrease, 98.67 percent of the respondents said that the Water for irrigation would decrease, 94.67 percent of the respondents said that local flora and fauna would decrease, 93.35 percent of the respondents said that the agricultural farm size would decrease, 90 percent of the respondents said that the employment opportunity would decrease, 66.67 percent of the respondents said that the employment opportunity will increase, 96 percent of the respondent said that their cropping intensity would decrease, 95.33 percent of the respondents felt that the surrounding environment would become polluted because of the intoxicants that will be generated by the project, 85.33 percent of the respondents stated that their income would decrease if the agricultural land and Common Property Resources is taken and the agricultural cultivation would be affected, 24.67 percent of the respondents said that the social prestige will decrease if their common land is taken, 35.33 percent of the respondents feared that their livestock would be decreased, 58 percent of the respondents fear that their trade and business would decrease, 100 percent of the respondents fear that there will be change in the health condition due to the project.
Attitude towards their common property resources-loss:53.34 percent of the respondents are participated in agitation, boycott of general election, fasting, poisoned to oppose the SIPCOT project to protect the loss of CPRS of the village, 80 percent of the respondents demanded and expressed their opinion by written petition during the Consultation of Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, 68.67 percent respondents do not know the recommendable answer of the consultation, 32.67 percent have no hope in their life with regard to the implementation of the project and they believed that the project would bring considerable reduction in per capita income. Psychological Condition: One fourth of the respondents are really disturbed psychologically while 7.33 percent respondents revealed they would die if their Common Property Resources land is taken for the project and 100 percent of the respondents are not ready to give their Common Property Resources for the SIPCOT project, they would feel like ending their lives and Mega project founded on a heap of LIES.
1. It is high time that the law makers examine very carefully whether the existing laws empowering Government to dispossess a citizen of his/her land and property need to be amended to provide for a strong and credible mechanism to prevent arbitrariness and gross misuse of the provisions.
2. A High power Apex body Chaired by the Agriculture Minister should be set up to examine in detailed reliable data on the production (and productivity for example per person per animal per unit land or per rupee spent as appropriate as well as consumption per person of food pulses fruits vegetables milk poultry marine food and meat in the village to emphasize the virtual synonymy of agriculture security.
3. SEZ Act, 2005 needs to be repealed. Only then can we prevent this impoverishment and devastation. This Act was passed in 2005, but there was little public debate on it till recent times. It was not made an issue during the 2004 election campaigns, and little was known about the policy, even by the majority of parliamentarians. This law does not have public consent.
4. Social Impact assessment (SIA) of projects under which a multi-disciplinary expert group would be formed and given responsibility for examining both SIA and EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) reports and accord clearance as per the procedure. Interestingly this group would Consist of Social Scientist or Social Worker and Rehabilitation experts and Secretaries of the department concerned with welfare of SC/STS but now where is the recognition of the need to include gender experts or secretary from the departments concerned with women.
5. There are state governments which have decided that no major project will be undertaken without extensive consultations with the people who will be affected and even making it mandatory for each Village Grama Sabha to give their approval. Why cannot the same apply in Tamil Nadu?
6. Tamil Nadu Government should publish a White Paper on SEZs with specific focus on land grab by foreign investors.
7. All legislation must be grounded in human rights and must recognize people’s individual and community rights over natural resources including land and must be grounded in the fundamental rights guaranteed by Indian constitution as well as India’s international human rights commitments.
8. Options Assessment must be a part of the of the project planning process in Thervoy kandigai village and it must begin at the smallest unit Grama Sabha It must be finalized pre-facto ensure the appropriate option with no enforce displacement socio-Environmental impact assessment.
9. Rehabilitation implies a social economic and cultural alternative way of life and hence can’t be attained without an alternative livelihood which needs to be land based allotted as Common Property Resource agricultural populations forest dwellers and nomadic pastoral communities affected.
11. It is recommended that a statutory commission be legally mandated , consisting of independent members to be appointed in the same manner as prescribed for other independent commissions, involving the Chief Justice, etc. in the choice of candidates. This Commission must examine every proposal for compulsory acquisition of land for major projects, with a clear mandate to consult and seek opinion from the local people to be impacted by such acquisition. Without extensive consultation with local people, no land should be acquired.
Apart from the land acquisition and related issues SEZ in Thervoy Kandigai village as a threat to democratic government and sovereignty as a harbinger of greater inequalities in income across villages and as a precedent setter in undermining local governance system labour rights and environmental legislations is often glossed over by resistance movements and the struggling masses The true nature of the SEZ legislation and its associated dangers can be understood only when we look beyond the issue of forcible common property resources acquisition study the highlights all the issues and emends the repeal of this in just legislation whose purported benefits are irrelevant to the needs of poor rural community and marginalized people. This unprecedented repression is not being taken by the people of Thervoy Kandigai village numerous protests dissents and movements indicate that the country might be pulled apart by internal struggles and could be headed towards a grave civil war type of situation in the villages
The grab in Thervoy Kandigai village is not limited only to land but extents to electricity water soil agriculture irrigation forests common property resources medicine herbs homestead livestock’s and all natural resources the grab is by the large domestic and multinational corporations and the victims and losers are the impoverished citizens whose rights over their own natural resources right to livelihood and right to life are being snatched away.
“TAKE OUR HOUSES, NOT THE FOREST”
Villagers of Thervoy (Zeitgeist (Zei), Saturday Magazine, 2008)