After a prolonged wait of over half a century, villagers in Arunachal Pradesh whose lands were acquired by the Indian Army following the 1962 Indo-China War, have received Rs 37.73 crore as compensation. On Friday, October 19, the compensation cheques were handed over to the residents of West Kameng, by Union Minister Kiren Rijiju and State Chief Minister Pema Khandu, at a formal ceremony.
“A total of Rs 37.73 crore has been given to the villagers. Those were community land. So the huge amount they received will be distributed amongst the villagers,” Kiren Rijiju later shared with PTI.
The lands were taken 56 years ago
After the conclusion of the Indo-China war in 1962, large areas of lands in Arunachal Pradesh, originally owned by the locals, were acquired by the Indian Army to increase the security stronghold in the state which shared the international border with China. The Army used the lands to construct army bases, barracks, bunkers as well as to build roads and bridges for improving communication.
However, till last year, several thousand affected villagers did not see any compensation which apparently led to a rise in discontent among them. This was evident from Rijiju’s remark in 2017 where he had shared with PTI that, “Although the people of Arunachal Pradesh can be branded as ultra-patriotic Indians but of the late, a sense of resentment has been brewing among them due to non-payment of compensation for huge areas of land occupied by the Army,” quoted a May 2017 report by The Times of India.
It must be mentioned here that the entire compensation amount had been estimated to be around Rs 3,000 crore, to be accordingly distributed among the inhabitants of West Kameng, Tawang, Dibang Valley, Upper Subansiri and West Siang districts.
The compensation initiative began in 2017
Many villagers have been duly compensated so far with individual amounts reaching as high as Rs 6.31 crore, as given to Prem Dorjee Khrimey. Rijiju has tweeted the report by Economic Times sharing a picture of himself handing over a cheque worth Rs 6.21 crore to Phuntso Khawa, another villager.
Incidentally, the compensation process started in 2017 itself, with nearly Rs 54 crore given out to 152 families in three villages in April. Later that year, another set of villagers received compensation worth Rs 158 crore. 31 families in Tawang district were handed over Rs 40.8 crore in February 2018 to compensate for over 200 acres of acquired land. In fact, at that time, word spread that Arunachal villagers were turning ‘Crorepatis’ overnight. The latest initiative in West Kameng has corroborated the State and Central Government’s sincere collaborative efforts.
Reportedly, the amounts were sanctioned finally by the Centre owing to Rijiju’s effective persuasion with the Defence Ministry. Thanking PM Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for this step, Rijiju hailed the BJP government in the North-Eastern state as the first party to consider the woes of the citizens, deprived of their due compensation. “Lands acquired by the Army were done in the national interest, but no government has bothered to pay the compensation to the villagers of Arunachal Pradesh since the 1960s,” he stated.
The Logical Indian take
For villagers who have been unjustly stripped off their land wealth once and suffered for over five decades, the compensation would have been more helpful if doled out earlier. However, the present amounts distributed equitably should prove to be a blessing for their future generations. The Logical Indian appreciates this move by the Arunachal Pradesh Government and the Centre.
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