National Peoples’ Tribunal on Post-tsunami Rehabilitation: Housing, Land, Resources and Livelihoods


December 26 2008 will mark the fourth anniversary of the tsunami. Housing and Land Rights Network, Human Rights Law Network, Human Rights Advocacy and Research Foundation & Citizens for Human Rights Movement in collaboration with other peoples’ movements and community groups invited us to be members of a National People’s Tribunal on Post- tsunami Rehabilitation: Housing, Land, Resources and Livelihoods to be held on 18th & 19th December 2008 at Chennai. The organisers of this tribunal constituted it in the context of continued violation of human rights of tsunami survivors and the absence of adequate state response or mechanisms for monitoring or redress.

We learned that in most parts of the tsunami affected States and Union Territories, rehabilitation for tsunami survivors is far from adequate. Many families have still not received any benefits or housing, livelihoods have not been adequately restored, and alternate housing apart from being grossly inadequate and small, is already showing signs of disrepair in many areas. In the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the situation is even more critical with the majority of families still living in tin sheds and awaiting permanent housing.

The organizers also stated that despite crores of rupees allocated for rehabilitation and reconstruction, the situation of most tsunami survivors continues to be tragic. The Public accounts Committee in its 2007-08 report on “Tsunami Relief and Rehabilitation” divulged that the affected State and Union Territory governments diverted funds and committed other irregularities in the amount of Rs. 228.58 crores.

The state and central governments, it is evident, have failed to adequately rehabilitate survivor communities, and in many cases continue to prevent community efforts at ensuring rehabilitation.

It is in this context that the following members consented to be part of the National Tribunal.

Justice H. Suresh (Chairperson)
former Judge, Mumbai High Court


Dr. Janki Andharia

Tata Institute of Social Sciences


Mr. Miloon Kothari,

former Special Rapporteur on Adequate

Housing, United Nations Human Rights



Dr. Amitabh Kundu

Professor of Economics,

Jawaharlal Nehru University


Dr. Mira Shiva

Coordinator, Initiative for Health Social Equity


Mr. Gopal Guru

Professor, Centre for Political Studies,

Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi



Mr. Henri Tiphagne
Director, People’s Watch

Some of the key issues emerging from the testimonies regarding post– tsunami rehabilitation include:
  • Continued discrimination in rehabilitation, especially against Dalits, Irulas and women is a serious matter of concern;
  • Exceedingly slow pace of rehabilitation, including failure to provide permanent housing four years after the tsunami;
  • The lack of a comprehensive housing policy for all tsunami affected regions;
  • The implementation of a faulty and ineffective housing policy in Tamil Nadu;
  • Single women and women headed households being denied alternative housing
  • Lack of adequate efforts to understand people’s needs, and lack of adequate consultation with affected communities;
  • Inadequate and incomplete resettlement sites, located far from the city, without adequate transport and basic services, including water and electricity and healthcare and education;
  • The rise in drop out rates of school going children due to relocation to distant sites;
  • The increase in health problems, and the lack of access to adequate healthcare facilities and sanitation facilities;
  • The cultural inappropriateness of housing, in particular the inadequate and unusable kitchens and bathrooms, which severely impact women’s rights to security and privacy;
  • The absence of secure legal titles of ownership over permanent housing;
  • The imminent threat of eviction of coastal communities under the guise of the proposed CMZ, tourism and other coastal development plans;
  • Lack of a mechanism, especially in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, for filing complaints and addressing grievances;
  • Lack of monitoring and accountability mechanisms, as well as lack of any data tracking.


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