PAFs seek compensation for Hunli-Anini road stretch

[Karyir Riba]

ROING, 16 Mar: The project-affected families (PAF) of the construction of the Trans-Arunachal Highway (TAH) from Hunli to Anini, starting from km 23.82 to km 138 stretch of the TAH, in Dibang Valley district, have expressed disappointment over the delay in payment of compensation and have claimed non-compliance with the Supreme Court’s orders by the NHIDCL.

The 150 PAFs have also named LM Secretary Pankaj Kumar Jha, LM Director AK Singh, NHIDCL Executive Director Sunil Kumar, NHIDCL GM PP Borgohai, and Arindam Handique, claiming “willful negligence” on their part in the non-payment of compensation despite orders from the SC in favour of the PAFs.

“When all our pleas fell on deaf ears, we were left with no other option but to approach the high court. We also filed a writ petition before the HC Itanagar permanent bench. Eventually, on 12.09.2022, the judgment was passed in favour of the petitioners to pay the solatium and interest within four months. Thereafter, the NHDICL had strangely filed a special leave petition (SLP) before the Supreme Court in an SLP (C) 22776-22777 of 2022 against the division bench order, which was disposed of in an order dated 7/02/23 in the SC, and while disposing the SLP, the SC had directed the state government to pay the solatium and interest to the landowners,” informed the PAFs.

They added: “Post the aforementioned verdict of the SC, we have written multiple letters to the authority concerned to release the pending amount to the affected landowners, all the while reminding them of the SCs’ order. Despite the order of the apex court and our constant reminders through multiple letters, the land management secretary, its director and NHIDCL officials have downplayed the need to pay the compensation to the landowners on time, and are deliberately yet to act on the SC order.

“Now, when approached by the PAFs, the NHIDCL says that the money is ready but they are awaiting the signal from the LM secretary and director for disbursement, as the requiring agency can disburse compensation only after necessary official process is done by the state government. This is all indicative of the fact that the state government, especially the land department, is not competent in dealing with land-related cases in the state,” the PAFs said.

In a letter to the chief minister, the minister and the chief secretary on 16 March, the PAFs apprised them of the case and raised questions: “What can the public expect if the project agencies keep going to the court instead of complying with the administration? If the government agencies cannot deal strongly with such belligerent project agencies, why conduct the land acquisition in the first place? Now when the LM secretary intentionally acts blind and deaf to our prayers, who will tell him to follow rules?”

The PAFs have also questioned the competency of the LM secretary and the director, “or it might be due to them working at the behest and in connivance with the NHIDCL, soliciting some gain from them, adding to such woes the lack of knowledge and carelessness of the concern tribal land minister of the state is playing an advantage for the top LM department officials of the state while they should be working for the welfare of the tribal people and not the other way round,” the PAFs said.

In their letter, the PAFs also complained about the land department, saying that that the PAFs are being “unnecessarily made to run from pillar to post,” and that only after requesting and visiting the office for more than 20 times, their file could be seen moving.

“A case of pick and choose is very rampant in the department,” they said.

The PAFs said that they are ready to hit the streets in case the matter is further delayed.

“In light of what all we have gone through, and having tried all means to seek justice, now we are left with no options but to resort to democratic movement against the injustice perpetrated by the secretary and director LM, and NHIDCL. Once we launch the democratic movement, we should not be held responsible for any untoward incidents or any breach of law and order,” they said.