Jury of National Peoples’ Tribunal on Post-tsunami Rehabilitation Strongly Condemns State


Press Release

23 December 2008

Jury of National Peoples’ Tribunal on Post-tsunami Rehabilitation Strongly Condemns State

On the second and concluding day of the National Peoples’ Tribunal on Post-tsunami Rehabilitation: Housing, Land, Resources and Livelihoods organized by a large collective of organizations and people’s movements in Chennai, the Jury chaired by Justice Suresh expressed its strong condemnation of the poor status of rehabilitation of tsunami survivors across the country. The Jury asserted that the Central government as well as state governments of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and governments of the union territories of Pondicherry and Andaman and Nicobar Islands, have failed in their legal and moral responsibility to provide adequate rehabilitation. Furthermore, the governments have violated both their national and international legal commitments. It is unpardonable that four years after the tsunami, many families have still not received benefits and are still awaiting permanent housing.

Based on 26 testimonies from tsunami survivors from Tamil Nadu, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Pondicherry, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, the Jury further claimed that the absence of monitoring mechanisms and non-compliance with judicial orders (for example, the Supreme Court interim orders dated October 2007 on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands), prima facie observations, and recommendations from the Comptroller Auditor General (CAG), and directions from the Tamil Nadu State Commission on Women, have created a serious and debilitating delay leading to violations of the human rights of adequate housing, land, work, food, education, and security. The Jury noted with alarm the slow pace of rehabilitation and unpardonable delay of four years in providing permanent housing and livelihood restoration of tsunami survivors. In the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, even four years after the tsunami, of the planned 10,000 permanent houses to be built, only 250 have been completed and allotted while the rest of the families are still living in grossly inadequate intermediate tin shelters.

Jury members further criticized the State for its inadequate and discriminatory housing policy; the forced relocation of communities to distant sites; the absence of basic services, including water and healthcare in resettlement sites; the lack of consultation with affected communities in the rehabilitation process; the denial of women’s rights to housing, livelihood, security and privacy; persistent discrimination against dalits and tribals; the diversion of tsunami funds and lack of transparency and accountability; the forced eviction of coastal communities in the guise of “safety”; the increased commercialization and privatisation of the coast and coastal resources; and the absence of effective monitoring and grievance redressal mechanisms.

Among its recommendations, the Jury included the following:

. The need to uphold and protect the right to adequate rehabilitation and the right to disaster prevention as human rights;

. Adequate livelihood restoration for fishing and non-fishing communities, including agricultural communities and women;

. Need for an immediate halt to all evictions of all dalits, fish workers, irulas, and other marginalised groups living along the coast;

. Immediate implementation of Supreme Court interim orders and CAG recommendations related to the tsunami;

. Urgent provision of basic facilities (water, sanitation, electricity, health services, education, transport) in all resettlement sites;

. The need for non-discrimination in all phases of rehabilitation and reconstruction, and the need to especially protect the human rights of women, children, dalits, and tribals;

. Development of a comprehensive and community-based post-disaster policy, including for housing, that is based on international human rights standards;

. Withdrawal of the draft CMZ Notification 2008, and strict implementation of existing Coastal Regulation Zone Notification 1991;

. Need to develop effective accountability, monitoring and grievance redressal mechanisms.

The Tribunal was held in Chennai at the Chinmaya Heritage Centre on the 18th and 19th December. The Jury chaired by Justice Suresh, former judge of the Mumbai High Court, also consisted of Miloon Kothari – former UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Dr. Mira Shiva – Coordinator, Initiative for Health Social Equity, Gopal Guru – professor at the Centre of Political Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Henri Tiphagne – director, People’s Watch, Dr. Janki Andharia, professor, Tata Institute of Social Science, and Dr. Amitabh Kundu, professor of Economics, Jawaharlal Nehru University.

For more details, contact: Vanessa Peter: 0944 534 8512, Shivani Chaudhry: 98 18 205 234, Ossie Fernandez: 09841053936, Miloon Kothari: 9810642122

To read the Jury verdict, just clik here