ITANAGAR, Jul 26: The Idu Mishmi Cultural and Literary Society (IMCLS) has written to the NHPC’s Dibang Multipurpose Project (DMP) chief manager, stating that refusal to pay compensation to the affected villagers whose land falls under unclassified state forest (USF) land in the 2880 mw DMP area “is total misdemeanour and inappropriate conduct on part of such a huge company.”
“To drive the people off their lands and off their homes, to drown the rich diversity and memories associated with the place, to mislead the people on compensation, and eventually to promise all necessary help and arrangements, and then failing to deliver on those promises after unsuspecting people agree to their proposition, is total misdemeanour and inappropriate conduct on part of such a huge company,” the letter read.
Urging the NHPC to withdraw the writ petition in the high court opposing granting of compensation against community land, the IMCLS said the NHPC should withdraw the writ petition to enable an “out of court settlement, so as to ensure early, decisive and amicable solution, devoid of confrontational attitude, and not let a travesty of justice be continued.”
Should the rights of the community of affected people be jeopardized, the IMCLS will not stand responsible henceforth for any delay that occurs in regard to constructing the world’s tallest concrete gravity dam, it said.
The IMCLS is the apex body of the Idu Mishmi community.
Numerous ‘hearings’ for the project, from 2008 to 2013, were cancelled due to staunch opposition by the local community, owing to varying concerns which they intimated to the NHPC and other relevant parties.
However, after relentless persuasion on the part of the state government and the power corporate body’s ‘assuring’ the people of all necessary initiatives to allay all key concerns, the local populace, albeit reluctantly, accepted the project.
“One of those assurances was in regard to the rightful compensation claims of the affected people,” the letter read.
The organization said that, now that the project has been given the go-ahead by the union cabinet, the NHPC has backtracked on its promises by filing a petition
in the high court, claiming the compensation as being “non-payable.”
“The IMCLS feels that the dam would necessarily bring huge advantage to the whole nation, and to Arunachal Pradesh as a whole. Nevertheless, such a necessity must not be at the cost of the rightful claims of the people, which clearly is a fraud played on innocent people,” it said.
“If compensation was not supposed to be paid, as the present high court petition suggests, then the land measurement and calculation of costs to be paid was a mere hoodwink, so as to dupe the unsuspectingly reluctant community as a whole. Such considerations, if any, should have been brought to the notice of the community at the earliest, and not when all the issues are settled,” the letter read.
The NHPC has filed a writ petition in the high court – WP (C) No 132 (AP)/2019 – challenging the legality of the compensation of Rs 1601,39,31,725 for “farcical acquisition of 1732.432 ha of USF land in Dibang Valley.”
During a supplementary affidavit filed after one of the project affected people approached the court, the NHPC stated that the indigenous people living in the surrounding areas of the acquired land have only traditional/customary rights over the USF land, “which they enjoy collectively on community basis.”
Many fear that if the court verdict goes in favour of the NHPC, it would have a devastating impact on the land ownership pattern of the tribal communities of the state.