Dorjee Khandu’s government signed around 130 MoUs with corporations for projects, mostly hydropower in Arunachal. Out of the 130 projects, let me take the example of Tawang Hydroelect. Project-I & II. For this project alone, National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) Ltd gave the state government 225 crore rupees in 2007. Just imagine, if the state government got 225 crores for just one MoU, how much money they might have received for 130 odd MoUs?
Everyone knows what happened next; most of the projects had to be halted because of the opposition by public, who were angry that the resources, land and river that they had considered to be theirs had been sold to outsiders without their knowledge or permission. At first glance, one might think that the public’s opposition was a ploy to milk higher compensation, but that wasn’t the case; no amount of compensation could dissuade the public’s opposition to the projects. They were genuinely hurt that the state government had the power and audacity to auction their land and rivers to companies without their permission, or even knowledge. Not only were the public hurt, they felt helpless and were clueless at the fact that their land and rivers don’t belong to them constitutionally.
Arunachal is under Article 371 (H) of the Constitution, which doesn’t state anything about the ownership of the resources of the state, and that’s the reason previous state government(s) could auction our resources without our permission and knowledge. Unlike Arunachal, Nagaland is under Article 371 (A) and Mizoram is under Article 371 (G), both of which contains provisions that their resources cannot be sold to companies without permission from indigenous people.
A decade has passed since the signing of the MoUs, and most of the projects are still halted, and nobody knows where those thousands of crores of rupees received from the MoUs are now.
People’s Party of Arunachal is at present a small party. But we will do everything in our capacity to prevent our resources from being auctioned again without the permission of indigenous people. We will keep raising our voice to include us in either Articles 371 (A) or (G) which will make us the rightful owners of our resources instead of Article 371 (H), which doesn’t contain provisions that would protect our land from being sold to corporations in the name of MoUs without our knowledge or permission.
Since the future of our state is at stake, we should make the next election issue based. All candidates, irrespective of party, should raise their voice and demand inclusion of our state under the ambit of Articles 371 (A) or (G) so that no government can auction or sellour resources without our knowledge or permission again in the future in the name of MoUs.