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HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
Kolkata, December 29, 2012
The state government’s stance of no forceful land acquisition could help reduce the number of persons displaced every year because of developmental activities, researchers claimed on Friday in Kolkata. Nearly 20-25 lakh people have been displaced in Bengal between 1951 and 2008 a recent pan-India research by Walter Fernandez, a Guwahati based researcher, has pointed out. In India the number is around 6 crore during the same period.

“The state government’s present standpoint that there would be no forceful land acquisition could reduce the number of persons displaced every year because of development purposes,” said Ranabir Samaddar, director of Calcutta Research Group, a city based NGO working on displaced persons in South Asia countries.

He said that in West Bengal maximum number of people is displaced by natural calamities and for developmental purposes. Conflicts and border disputes come next. “But this number (20-25 lakhs) is minus the refugees who were evicted because of the partition. If that number is considered the number of displaced persons in West Bengal would shoot up to nearly 75 lakh,” Samaddar said.

He, however, said the number of displaced persons in West Bengal is much less compared to some states in central India such as Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa where several lakhs more have been displaced because of mining. In a bid to discuss the problems and burning issues of displaced persons and refugees across the world more than 250 delegates from India and at least 30 countries including Afghanistan, Rwanda, Australia and the US would be gathering in Kolkata between January 6-9.

“The four-day conference of the International Association for the Study of Forced Migration would be deliberating on the issue. This is for the first time that this international conference is being held in South Asia,” he said.