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India: Orissa

Volume 716: debated on Tuesday 5 January 2010


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the outcome of their meeting on 23 November with Mr Vijayesh Lal concerning displaced Christians in Orissa State, India; and what action they or the Commonwealth are taking about compensation, employment and reinstating land and property in that state. [HL609]

Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) officials held a productive meeting with Mr Lal and representatives of Christian non-governmental organisation, Open Doors, and updated them about the latest situation in Orissa.

On 10-11 November 2009, the British High Commissioner to India visited Orissa and inquired with the local state authorities, including the Chief Minister, about the status of Christians still affected by the violence in Orissa in 2008, their living conditions, compensation and the prosecution of those responsible. The local authorities advised that the state-run camps had been closed, affected Christians had now returned to their homes, compensation had been provided and perpetrators had been convicted. However, resettlement of those displaced and the reconstruction of churches was still ongoing. FCO officials have since informed Mr Lal and his colleagues about the High Commissioner’s recent visit.

The Department for International Development is providing £10 million for community development in Orissa through the Tribal Empowerment and Livelihoods Programme from 2004-2010. The programme has helped to increase incomes, reduce malnutrition and improve water and sanitation for over 375,000 tribal men and women in four districts of Orissa, including Kandhamal.

The British High Commission in New Delhi is also supporting a pilot project to improve access to justice in Kandhamal by improving awareness of citizens’ rights and the capacity of lawyers to effectively pursue cases for victims of the communal violence in 2008.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will ask the Government of India to place the investigation into violence in Orissa in the hands of the Central Bureau of Investigation and transfer relevant court cases from Kandhamal to Cuttack or Bhubaneshwar. [HL610]