Upper crust robbed government coffer in TAH scam; Rs 42 cr excess payment made against 43 kms

[Amar Sangno]

ITANAGAR, Sep 12: The recovery notice issued by Lower Subansiri DC Chukhu Takar on 30 August against excess payment made for land acquisition for the Potin-Bopi stretch of the Trans-Arunachal Highway (TAH) reveals that upper crust people of Yazali and Yachuli areas robbed the government fund.
Most of the beneficiaries who got the highest amounts in excess payment are either top politicians, government officers, community leaders, or relatives of influential people.
State BJP executive member Likha Maj’s name is on the top of the list. The DC has issued a notice to Maj to return the excess amount of Rs 12,12,79,784 that had been paid for the Joram-Koloriang (20-50 kms) stretch of the TAH.
Against the Potin-ANYA Gate stretch in Lower Subansiri, the total amount of excess payment, according to the district administration’s recovery list, is Rs 42,20,56,688.08, paid to 431 beneficiaries. It is reported that out of the 431 beneficiaries, 192 got more than Rs 1 lakh each in excess payment.
After reports of major discrepancies in the disbursement of the compensation amount for the Potin-ANYA Gate stretch emerged, the state government had constituted a fact-finding committee (FFC) headed by Lower Siang DC AK Singh, which had carried out the re-verification in June 2018.
As per the recovery notice, the 192 beneficiaries got Rs 41,47,89,969 in total.
Agriculture Development Officer (ADO) Toko Tat is the table topper with Rs 5,020,9091 in excess payment, according to the DA’s recovery notice list.
BSNL Divisional Telecom Officer Taw Tana is second among the highest paid beneficiaries with Rs 3,92,83,337.56, followed by Yowa Rinya (wife of ADO Toko Tat) with Rs 2,90,19,936.
Former ANSU general secretary Likha Tabo is fourth on the list with Rs 2,68,24,988.
None of those who received the highest excess payment could be contacted by this daily for comment, except for former ANSU GS Likha Tabo, who said he would come to The Arunachal Times office to clarify his position.
Interestingly, the name of Nyishi Elite Society (NES) president Bengia Tolum, who is spearheading the movement against the TAH compensation scam as the spokesman of the Yazali Zilla Segment Trans-Arunachal Highway Compensation Deprived Forum, has also surfaced in the recovery notice.
As per the notice list, the NES president had received an excess amount of Rs 85, 97,119.19.
However, Tolum claimed that it was a conspiracy by Yachuli ADC JT Obi to frame him.
“It is a conspiracy by JT Obi; the truth will be out soon. I am going to the court. My advocate is on the job. I have not done any wrong, and (there is) no reason to doubt me,” he said.
Tolum further claimed: “My asset in question is still standing intact. It appeared in the DPRs of 2008 and 2012, which got sanctioned by the government, and they paid accordingly. The re-verification committee changed the row and strip plan in the chainage, so as to trap me.”
He said the recovery notice published in the newspapers was an attempt to confuse the public and the law about the main culprit.
“I have already started my consultation with a legal expert for filing a PIL to punish the culprit. The DC Ziro cannot change the IPC and the criminal procedure code. Returning the money is acceptance of crime; it does not save one from legal proceedings,” he added.
Denying the allegation, Obi said, “I don’t want to comment further on the issue, as people know I didn’t do anything.”
Obi was the subordinate officer who accompanied the FFC re-verification team headed by the Lower Siang DC and the land management secretary.
Meanwhile, the Lower Subansiri district administration confirmed that it has so far recovered more than Rs 15 lakhs from eight people.
“Gradually, people are coming to return the amounts. Hopefully, by the end of the deadline, the people will turn up to return all amounts,” said an official of the Lower Subansiri DC office.
Surprisingly, the TAH compensation scam does not appear to have tempted student organisations and civil society groups as the public distribution system (PDS) scam did years ago. The TAH scam has apparently become a holy cow for many conscience-keepers of some of the affected areas, as many preferred to remain silent.