Ghost villages established overnight along TAH to claim land compensation

[ Amar Sangno ]

ITANAGAR, 10 Aug: Large number of illegal structures popularly dubbed ‘the ghost villages’ are found to have been established in various locations starting from Dupu and Row villages of Payum circle in Siang district up to Tato in Shi-Yomi district along proposed Trans-Arunachal Highway(TAH) road, allegedly to extract compensation amount from the authorities.

Once serene and lonely road from Pene to Tato in Shi-Yomi district is now punctuated by hundreds of structures. Sources in Tato claimed that number of illegal structures may go up to over 700 in the said stretch of road.

In Siang district under Dupu and Row villages, the number of illegal structures is relatively much lesser than Shi-Yomi district.

Sources further informed that the ‘ghost villages’ have come up since early 2021, with ulterior intention to claim land compensation amount from the executing agency.

“Prior to the land acquisition process for TAH in Siang and Shi-Yomi districts, people started building structures aggressively and planting trees rampantly to extract compensation amount,” sources added.

It is reported that though the ‘ghost villages’ or proxy villages were being brazenly created right before the authorities and the public, no individual dared to raise any question on these rampant illegal structures.

It is also claimed that though, the district administration repeatedly issued public notice to demolish or evict structures, no demolition or eviction has been carried out yet.

Shi-Yomi deputy commissioner Mito Dirchi had issued a public notice on 29 March 2021, stating that rampant construction of semi-permanent and permanent dwelling houses and other structures has been noticed on the hill side of Kaying-Tato BRTF road from Pene check gate to Tato.

“It is suspected that such purposeless structures have been built with a mala fide intention of drawing excess land compensation amount in case of widening of the Highway in the said route: the property assessment of no such structures built after 31st January (Satellite images will be relied upon) and which are built within the RoW (Right of Way), shall be done and shall be taken under consideration while framing the estimate for land compensation amount to be paid to the land owners for the purpose of widening the Highway,” the public notice of Shi-Yomi DC read.

The notice also cautioned that similar constructions within Tato township would be demolished without any prior notice.

“I issued the said order which was widely circulated and announced in all the public meetings within Tato circle time and again. We are yet to receive the compensation amount from the BRO, let alone its disbursement to the affected families,” DC Mito Dirchi said.

“Final assessment followed by final cross verification by the DLRSO and his team and the Committee comprising of the actual land and other assets owners/affected families is yet to be done here,” the DC added.

The Arunachal Times have learnt that those who have created or built illegal structures are mounting tremendous pressure on the respective district administrations to include their structures in the property assessment.

On 31st May, through public notice the Shi-Yomi DC stated that newly constructed or created properties in violation of the public notice issued on 29 March 2021, with sole intention to gain compensation are not assessed or included in the list.

Meanwhile, in Dupu and Row village areas under Payum circle of Siang district, a complainant Raj Yamir alleged that there are major anomalies and irregularities in the property assessment.

“In Dupu and Row village areas, genuine structures and land owners are being deprived, on the other hand many illegal structures were included in assessment list enabling them to prepare inflated bill,” alleged Raj Yamir, a resident of Row village.

“The bill is already prepared and we have found out anomalies and irregularities. That is why we are raising the issue,” Yamir added accusing the district authorities of covering up the proxy structures.

Through a local digital channel ‘West News Aalo,’ Yamir had accused the district administration of colluding with owners of illegal structures to claim compensation amount through fraudulent means.

Earlier, Kaying EAC Naatek Nonaang had issued a restraining order on 3rd December 2021 against construction of rampant structures from Tumbin area (11 to 47 kilometers) to Shi-Yomi district, prohibiting all kinds of plantation, erection of structures and carrying out activities.

EAC Nonaang also stated that no eviction order shall be issued nor would the compensation be entertained.

When contacted, Siang deputy commissioner Atul Tayeng clarified that land compensation assessment for Dupu-Row sector was carried out by a committee headed by Kaying EAC as chairman recently.

“The committee report is yet to be finalized and signed by the board members which again had to be put up to DC for approval,” Siang DC said.

Tayeng further informed that the Zilla Parishad Member (ZPM) had complained that survey was not done properly. “Based on the ZPM’s complaint, the Rumgong ADC was directed to conduct hearing and dispose the complaint on the spot and to submit a report,” added Tayeng.

“On receiving the report, a fresh committee under the chairmanship of Rumgong ADC was constituted for proper assessment. The new houses shown to be constructed along the road in the video in circulation has not been included in the property assessment by the committee as informed by DLRSO,” Tayeng said.

TAH, a two-lane dream project with the aim of transforming communication bottlenecks in Arunachal, was announced by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2008, covering more than 2,407 kilometers (1,496 miles) passing through every district headquarters across the state.

Also the word, ‘land compensation’ in Arunachal started resonating among citizens with the introduction of TAH in 2010-11.