NHPC challenges land compensation against Dibang Project

[ Karyir Riba ]

ROING, Jun 26: The NHPC Limited has filed a petition in the Gauhati High Court, challenging the implementation of compensation for land acquisition for the construction of Dibang Multipurpose Project (DMP) in Dibang Valley district, claiming that the 1732.45 hectares of land is “a part of Un-classed State Forest (USF) area that does not belong to any individual as it is not a private land”.
As per reports, the petition was filed on 1 May, 2019, following the approval of the state government for award of compensation to affected people under Section 11 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 on 5 March, 2019, without any knowledge of either the Dibang Multipurpose Project Affected Area Committee (DMPAAC) or the state government.
The petition mentions that the “entire land has been illegally acquired by the Government of Arunachal Pradesh,” claiming that it falls under USF land that can only result in loss of traditional or customary right of tribal community living in the surrounding areas and there is no loss of any individual right because it does not contain any private land of any tribal person.
In its letter to the deputy commissioner of Dibang Valley, the NHPC Limited has also claimed that the land in question is a part of USF area measuring 4577.84 Hectares as proposed by the Environment and Forests Department, Government of Arunachal Pradesh and as approved by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, GoI under the provisions of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980.
On learning about the petition, the DMPAAC has written a letter to the DMP, NHPC Ltd, and demanded an immediate stop to all ongoing work, activity, e-tender invitations etc of the DMP, which they said, may be resumed after the matter is resolved amicably in the Gauhati High Court.
The DMPAAC also said that failure to meet the stated demands will inevitably invite mass democratic movement from the affected regions of the DMP.
DMPAAC president Athupi Melo expressed his concern that if the concept of USF is allowed in Dibang Valley for the DMP, the state as a whole will suffer as it will be implemented all over the state.
“What will remain of us?” he asked, adding: “We are already just a handful of people and if more such big shot companies come to Arunachal with more projects, we will all be thrown out of our own land, stripped off all rights of claim, in the name of USF.”
Melo also pointed out that in the Annexure P/7 of the status of USF areas, it is clearly mentioned that there is no notification constituting USF in the state of Arunachal Pradesh that has been issued till date.
The considerable areas of USF in AP are under claims of ownership by community, clan or individuals.
The land in question belongs to communities, clans and individuals of Awali, Kano/Akaya, Anaya, Amili/Alili/Aprali, Aprunli, Emrali, Wanli, Angapo, Anelih/Briyito, Ichili/Grinli, Arzoo/Edipo, New Endolin, Angulin, Gunli, Esunli, Ryali/Lopo/Echindo, Amrali, Amuli, Apako, Ataya, Mrambo Upper, Kronli, villages under Etalin, Arzoo and Anelih circles of Dibang Valley District.