Discrepancies in assessment, disbursement emerge

TAH compensation scam

[Tongam Rina]

ITANAGAR, Jul 5: While three people including former deputy commissioner of Lower Subansiri Kemo Lollen and businessman Likha Maj have been arrested by the Special Investigation Cell (SIC) for their role in the compensation scam involving the Joram-Koloriang stretch of the Trans-Arunachal Highway (TAH) project, it appears that there have been major discrepancies in the assessment as well as disbursement of compensation against the Potin-Bopi stretch of the TAH.
Several people who were compensated for loss of land and property have refused to accept the compensation amount as it fell way below the amount projected under the detailed project report prepared by the Lower Subansiri district administration led by Lollen.
One of those who refused to accept the compensation is Bengia Tach, a businessman from Pitapool.
According to ground assessment done by the Lower Subansiri district administration, the price for Tach’s property was pegged at Rs 34,73,369, but the cheque offered was Rs 15,29,000.
“I am set to lose my residence-cum-commercial building for Rs 15,29000, so I refused to accept the paltry compensation money,” Tach said, speaking to this daily.
He said his valuation of the property was Rs 50 lakhs.
There are many others like him who say that valuation of their property and land was not commensurate with the actual compensation amount given by the government.
Shocked at the valuation done by the district administration, information was sought by private individuals affected by the TAH project. However, a full disclosure of information was not made either by the state PWD highway department or the Lower Subansiri district administration, both of which directed them to seek information from the regional office of the ministry of road transport & highways (MoRTH) in Tezpur, Assam.
According to documents obtained under the RTI Act pertaining to ground assessment for standing structures obtained from the regional office, some 87 households along the Potin to Bopi stretch were set to get compensation ranging from a few thousand to crores of rupees per family.
However, going through the papers, it appears that there have been discrepancies in the assessment done by the Lower Subansiri administration.
Most of those set to gain from the assessment done by the administration include family members of Yachuli MLA Likha Saaya, businessman Likha Maj, Likha Tabo, and Bengia Bado.
Several panchayat leaders, gaon burahs and members of the public during an assessment done on 26 May stated that there were farcical assessment of the properties of 43 individuals, running into about Rs 30 crore – although they did not name names.
According to them, the assessment was done even though there are no standing structures, and that there were five cases of excess billing.
The information with this daily reveals that family members of Saaya, Maj, Tabo and Bado are among those 43 names.
Many individuals opposed to the assessment of the land and property have come together to form an organization – the Yazali Zila TAH Compensation Forum. Their demand is for reassessment and reevaluation of the land and properties for a fair compensation.
The MoRTH had sanctioned Rs 188 crore for land compensation, while an additional amount of Rs 10.57 crore was released for private forests.
The detailed project reports were submitted to the central government by the then Lower Subansiri deputy commissioner, following which the compensation amount was released by the Centre.
However, there seems to be several discrepancies.
For one, the assessment seems to have been done not based on standing ground structures or the actual price of land. Based on the ground structure assessment done by the district administration, only some influential families seem to have gained from the entire process.
It remains to be seen what the fact-finding committee constituted by the government of Arunachal Pradesh will decide to ensure that only the deserving project-affected people are actually compensated, and that those responsible for farcical assessment of the land and properties are taken to task. So far, the fact-finding committee has not responded to several questionnaires sent by this daily.