DMP affected landowners offer to withdraw WP if GoAP meets demands

ITANAGAR, Mar 21: The landowners affected by the Dibang Multipurpose Project (DMP) in Lower Dibang Valley district on Saturday said they would withdraw the writ petition (WP) filed in the Gauhati high court against the project if the state government fulfills their demands.
The landowners have been demanding that “the value of multiplication factor of the project should be as per the first schedule of the Right to Fair Compensation Act in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation & Settlement Act, 2018.” Their other demands are: recalling of the government’s order dated 7 September, 2018, announcing the cancellation of the awarding of the draft of the project, and fixation of the value of trees and plants “as per the estimation made during the
final assessment, while strictly maintaining the rate fixed under Sections 28 (II) and 29 (II) of the LARR Act 2013.”
Addressing journalists at the press club here on Saturday, Rohit Mele, speaking on behalf of the affected landowners, said that despite the high-level committee for land acquisition fixing the compensation rates for agriculture and residential land (including the value of selected plants and tree species as per the government notification), “the NHPC authority is now reluctant to pay compensation for plants and trees, citing it to be too high.”
“I don’t understand why after completing all land acquisition process, and when project work is about to begin, the NHPC is unwilling to pay the value of plants and trees as agreed during the public meeting held on 11 March, 2013,” Mele said.
Stating that it has been over a decade since the affected people received compensation, Mele said the NHPC’s current stand would be unfair to the people affected by the DMP “at a time when the NHPC paid compensation to the beneficiaries of the 33 kv sub-station in July 2018, the 8 km double-lane national highway from Dolkang stream (Siluk) to Sisiri, and the 157 km Lower Subansiri Trans-Arunachal Highway from Potin to Bopi, in connection with compensation related to plants and trees.”
He sought to know why the beneficiaries of the DMP were being denied compensation when the value of plants and trees was compensated for in the case of the project-affected people in various states.
Mele claimed that the compensation was based on the rate fixed by the state government notification dated 17 May, 2018, vide Order No LM-102, 2015, 736, for valuation of trees, plants, assets, and horticulture and agriculture products.
He also opined that the rate of the trees and plants falling under Sections 28 (II) and 29 (II) of the LARR Act, as estimated during the final assessment of the project, should be maintained.
With regard to the demand for recalling the order to cancel awarding of the draft, Mele said “it is not only illegal but unjustified to rescind the final draft award once it gets full approval by the deputy commissioner.”
Seeking to justify his claim, Mele cited the law commissioner’s reply to a query under the RTI Act, wherein, Mele said, the commissioner stated that “there is no relevant provision by which the state government could invoke/rescind the draft award order once approved by the DC concerned.”
He also criticized the NHPC’s general manager (GM) for backtracking on the promise that he had made during a public hearing on 11 March, “during which the GM had assured to ensure fair compensation, rehabilitation packages, including A, B, C, D grade jobs, to affected families and others.”
“Our people, who gave about 3500 hectares of rich agricultural land for the project, are now disheartened by the apathetic attitude of the state government,” Mele said. “Their hardship has been compounded by the inordinate delay in starting the project.”
He said the landowners filed the WP only after the state government refused to heed to their demands.
Mele also said that, as per Section 41 (6) of the LARR Act, after acquiring land from people belonging to SC and ST tribes, at least one-third of the compensation should be paid to the affected families.
He said the affected people have asked the state government to resolve the land compensation issue at the earliest “by instructing the DC concerned to convene a public meeting to discuss the compensation issues.”
Mele said the affected landowners would, if necessary, approach the ST/SC Commission to seek justice, and that they would take their “own course of action” if the government fails to address their demands.