SETTING up industrial units, including SEZs, may become more difficult in areas inhabited by tribal population from next year. The new tribal policy being finalised by the government is all set to provide land ownership rights to the tribal population. This would not only make their eviction process stringent but also increase the liability for the acquirer to resettle and rehabilitate the tribal families. The move would impact mining, paper and metal-based industries.
“It would become difficult for a company to acquire tribal land. If the state government is convinced about the public purpose of project, the company would be granted approval after every step has been taken to safeguard interests, traditions and customs of people in the tribal belt,” said an official.
As per the proposals in the draft policy, which would be put before a group of ministers for approval soon, land acquisition in tribal areas would have to be guided by the principle of land for land, market value of land, concept of net present value (NPV) of assets and social impact assessment. Besides, the land acquirer would have to ensure lifelong livelihood of entire tribal community of the area in terms of providing job in the industrial units or imparting training to them for their employability. “Land rights would mean that tribes would also be eligible for R&R grants. They just cannot be resettled by the state without any compensation,” the official said.
While the compensation scheme under the tribal policy is similar to the one contained in the recently-announced rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R) policy, it goes beyond it to make acquirers liable to apply all the provisions for resettlement rather than give them the choice for any one of them.
The most striking feature of the new policy is likely to be land ownership rights for tribes. The over-8.5 crore tribal population of the country have ownership rights over the piece of land they have been living for centuries. The changes proposed include provision of land ownership up to four hectare for each tribal family including forest use rights.
The policy makes it mandatory to conduct a social impact assessment (SIA) in case of displacement of more than 200 people. “A legislative regime would be put in place that ensures least displacement of the tribal population, exploration of all alternatives to displacement and appropriate compensation including land for land, market value of land, concept of NPV of their assets and social impact assessment,” the official said.
The move would mean more problems for industries coming up in areas with tribal population. Most projects, especially in Orissa, North East, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhtya Pradesh and Karnataka, would have to follow the new guidelines for tribals as well, besides providing compensation of other villagers and farmers falling in the area.
The new tribal policy also advocates reorienting institutional arrangements for the tribal areas, strengthening and revamping the administrative machinery and developing a quantifiable tribal development index