PAFs in Etalin demand release of compensation

[ Karyir Riba ]

ANINI, 22 Aug: The Project Affected People’s Forum (PAPF) here in Dibang Valley district has expressed extreme displeasure over the non-payment of compensation despite completion of all land acquisition “as well as administrative due processes in the 3,097 mw Etalin hydropower project.”

The PAPF has demanded immediate release of one-third of the compensation amount due towards the PAFs as per Section 41 of the LARR Act, 2013.

According to records, the acquisition process was completed in 2019, following the preliminary notification released in 2012 (vide Letter No LM-110/2012/9182, dated 9 November, 2012).

“Despite execution of MoA and MoU between the project proponent and the state government, and completion of all administrative due process and land acquisition process, the sad reality remains that the PAFs are yet to get due justice in terms of payment of compensation. Even after the land has been acquired and awards accorded, the matter has been delayed due to reasons unknown, and this lackadaisical attitude shown by the project proponent and the state government has put us in a dilemma and in an adverse situation, as the PAFs are not being able to cultivate or erect any structures for various purposes in our own land with the thought that the land will be affected,” the PAPF said.

The forum said it has also written to the DCM, the land minister, the chief secretary and the power commissioner regarding the matter, and has put forward a few points to be considered.

The PAPF demanded that “the awarded compensation amount should be paid with interest as per the provisions of the Act, or pay damages as per the LARR Act, 2013, if the project is to be abandoned.”

In addition, it demanded that the pending statutory forest/environment clearance be immediately sought from the ministry, so as to expedite the project and mitigate the long-pending issue.

Pointing out the ongoing tussle over whether the project will be awarded to Jindal Private Limited or Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam, the PAPF demanded to be given a clear picture of the government’s stand on the situation.

PAPF GS Rohit Mele said, “The state government seems to be more worried about upfront money in lobbying with the corporate than working for the land-affected beneficiaries by expediting to resolve the land compensation issue and thereby clearing the compensation, as the land has already been acquired and under possession of requiring agency since 2008 without paying a penny.

“We are now made to realise that the state government is more inclined towards requiring agency for upfront money and not at all interested for the project-affected people. However, we are still raising our voices and are hopeful that the matter will be resolved at the earliest,” Mele said.

The PAFP said that, if its demand is not met, it would be left with no alternative but to move on to its immediate next step, which will be to “initiate proceedings before the appropriate forum or democratic movement, or to seek for scrapping the whole project, in which case the state government will have to pay damages suffered by the PAFs as per Section 93 of the LARR Act, 2013.”