Depts defy DA’s order in controversial reserve forest

[ Amar Sangno ]
ITANAGAR, May 31: Call it lack of coordination or deliberate ignorance, the departments of power (electrical) and public health engineering & water supply (PHE&WS) in Lohit district are reported to have openly defied the deputy commissioner’s order by providing water and electricity connectivity to a controversial area in Tezu township – the erstwhile Tezu station reserve forest.
On 16 October last year, Lohit Deputy Commissioner Karma Leki had issued a notice directing the executive engineers of the Tezu PHE&WS department and the Tezu/Namsai power (electrical) department to ensure that the residents of the area had proper land allotment and NOCs from the district administration prior to providing water supply and electricity connection in those areas.
The DC had issued the notice sensing rampant encroachment on government land in the Tezu township extension area.
There are claims from various quarters of the district that the departments’ blatant defiance of the administration’s order was a deliberate attempt to validate encroached land in the area. Open encroachment has already stalled the setting up of the proposed AYUSH medical college there.
When contacted, Power (Electrical) EE NK Jha said electrification in the area was done prior to the DA’s notice, and that electricity connection had been provided there “purely on the basis of the 2011 socio economic census.”
However, the PHE&WS EE, who agreed to comment on condition of not being named, claimed that there is not a single point of water supply connection to the area.
“So far, 27 points of water supply connection have been provided to individual households since October 2017, but no single point to that controversial area,” he said.
On the other hand, sources in Tezu claim that several points of water supply have been provided to the settlers. They acknowledged, however, that water supply connections might have been provided there surreptitiously, keeping the executive engineer in the dark.
The sources went on to claim that during the 2011 socio economic census, the settlers in the area – mostly non-APSTs – misled the enumerators by addressing the township extension area as Shivaji Nagar, whereas the original Shivaji Nagar is in 43 Mile area.
The Arunachal Times has learnt that a government primary school – designated as Shivaji Nagar Primary School – was also established in the heart of the reserve forest area in 2014. The DC recently constituted a flying squad, comprising magistrates and police personnel, to deal with land grabbers in the area, but it reportedly did not yield any fruitful result.