By Paritosh Chakma
IN YET another glaring instance as to how the people affected by so called developmental projects are shabbily treated in this country, the Papumpare Chakma Welfare Society has brought to the public notice that 237 Chakma families face imminent displacement due to acquisition of the lands for the proposed Itanagar Greenfield Airport at Hollongi in Papumpare district of Arunachal Pradesh.
The state government has failed to consult the affected people and there is no transparency in the proposed acquisition of the lands and the affected people are being kept in the dark.
On 13 and 14 September 2012, five Chakma inhabited villages (Chakma Blocks No. 2, 3, 5, 6 and 10) have been demarcated as proposed airport site by the magistrate/ extra assistant commissioner (EAC) Balijan Circle under the direction from the state government. But neither the government of Arunachal Pradesh nor the Airport Authority of India (AAI) has informed anything officially to the affected people regarding the acquisition of their lands. Chakmas do not know where the displaced people will be resettled, the PCWS stated in a press statement.
The proposed airport site at Hollongi is a 'Chakma settlement area' where Chakmas from the then East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, had been settled by the government of India in consultation with the then local administration during 1964-69. “If the Chakmas lose their allotted lands, they stand to lose everything. In the absence of any other livelihood options as well as any government support, agriculture is the only means of survival for them,” stated Bodhisatta Chakma, President, PWCS.
The affected Chakmas have demanded that authorities make the land acquisition process transparent, and affected people be “adequately consulted” in all stages including preparation of the detailed project report.