[ Taba Ajum ]
KOKILA, 19 Sep: For the 186 Chakma families settled here under Papum Pare district, a new era has begun with the state government resettling them in a new area under rehabilitation and resettlement (RR) plan to pave the way for construction of Hollongi green field airport.
The Chakmas who are originally from Bangladesh were settled in Kokila area in 1964 when they fled the country due to religious persecution and construction of the Kaptai dam. Their original settlement area at Hollongi-Kokila has been acquired for construction of the green field airport.
Out of 186 families affected by the project, 156 have been settled in RR areas and the remaining 30 in non-RR areas.
“Those who lost both land and house have been settled in the RR area. Those who only lost land have been given new land for settlement. The entire 186 families shifted to the new settlement in November 2020. The entire shifting process was done peacefully,” informed Bijoy Ranjan Chakma, president of the Chakma Rehabilitation & Resettlement Committee (CRRC).
The CRRC was constituted by the state government and it was properly notified by the Papum Pare district administration. The committee was authorized by all Hollongi green field airport projects affected Chakma families to implement RR schemes.
“The state government transferred funds to the committee and it is being judiciously used to implement all aspects of the RR plan. A total of 156 buildings have been constructed in four different areas. They have been marked as block A, B, C and D,” he said.
The construction of a large mandir is currently going on and is expected to be completed within the next three months. Also, seven classrooms and a dispensary have been constructed in the new resettlement area.
“As per DPR, the provision is only for five classrooms as it is a primary school. But we have constructed seven rooms keeping future needs in mind. Nine internal roads have also been constructed in the new resettlement areas,” said the CRRC president.
The PHED is constructing five water tanks and has assured to start supplying water soon. Apart from constructing 156 houses under the RR scheme, the committee also extended financial benefits of Rs 2.5 lakhs each to all the 156 families.
He also informed that the entire Rehabilitation and Resettlement work faced multiple challenges.
“The construction of buildings at RR sites started in February 2020. The work was going on in full swing and progress was being monitored by the Papum Pare administration. However, the sudden imposition of lockdown hampered its progress. We were working under a deadline to complete work at the earliest to pave the way for construction of the airport to start. To bring construction materials and to manage labourers during lockdown was a big task. The expenditure incurred increased due to lockdown,” said Bjioy.
He said the committee had to maintain the entire stretch of road leading to the resettlement area to ensure that materials reach on time.
The CRRC president also lauded the state government for carrying out the entire process in a transparent manner.
“The state government and Papum Pare district administration in particular has been very transparent with us. No decision was forcefully imposed and our views were always respected while planning for resettlement of displaced Chakma families,” said Bjioy.
Further, he alleged that a few Chakma people under the influence of outsiders are trying to create hurdles in the RR process by carrying out a misinformation campaign.
“This is unfortunate. These people are working against the interest of the state by trying to sabotage the airport work,” he alleged. Reportedly, a few Chakma affected people have alleged the committee of mismanaging the Rehabilitation and Resettlement process. The CRRC president has rubbished the allegation and urged fellow Chakmas to create congenial atmosphere for early completion of the airport project. “We have always been helped by the people of Arunachal and the state government. We will never go against the interest of the state,” he said.
The committee has further appealed to the state government to grant funds for construction of drain, community hall, flood control measure etc, in the new settlement area.
“Some of the additional land announced for us is yet to be handed over. We appeal to the state government to kindly hand over additional land at the earliest possible,” appealed CRRC president Bijoy.