Port Blair, June 12: The Govt. of India after almost seven years of Tsunami disaster in the islands has decided on the compensation package to the tsunami victim settlers/farmers who had lost their land due to permanent water logging. As per the package, the GoI has decided to pay Rs. 9,39,000/- per hectare to the settlers. 

The Member of Parliament Shri Bishnu Pada Ray has been opposing the rate of compensation to the isles settlers, calling it unjustified. During his recent visit to Campbell Bay Island, the southernmost tip of the A&N group of islands, he had a talk with the farmers and settlers. According to the Member of Parliament, the Ex-Servicemen Settlers in the island got furious when they came to know about the package being offered. 

The MP said, it was told by the settlers that they understand that the GoI has paid a compensation of Rs. 1 Crore and 75 lakhs per Hectare in Delhi. ‘Our compensation is nothing in front of it. Moreover the cost of land in any corner of the country today is not less than 25 Lakhs per acre’, the settlers told the MP.  

Explaining about the present problems of the settlers, the Member of Parliament said, “The Andaman Lakshdweep Harbour Works (ALHW) has spent around Rs 46. Crores for constructing sea wall across Campbell Bay. The work still remains to be completed but it was observed that the sea wall did not solve any purpose as no steps were taken to reclaim the land. Even today sea water enters inside the settlers land in spite of having a sea wall”. 

Further ALHW was allocated Rs. 1.6 Crores to construct a cold storage. The earlier cold storage used by the fishermen was slightly damaged during the tsunami, the MP said. 

It is surprising to note that the existing cold storage building is intact and could be done away with minor repairs. In such a case, is there a need for a new building by demolishing the existing, he asked. Minor repairs in the building would cost a maximum of Rs. 5-10 Lakhs and the remaining amount can be diverted for reclamation of the submerged land, the MP opined. 

“Another thing which I noticed was that there were nearly 700 cubic meter of timber which was collected after new roads were constructed. The logs are rotting on the roadside but there is no move from the A&N Administration to utilize it”, Bishnu said.

Alleging the Administration for misuse of funds in the name of development, the MP said that the CPWD and the A&N Admin. have constructed a 40 room hotel for a Police Out Post at Gandhi Nagar. Further a two storied school building has been constructed in the area where only 40 families reside. A luxurious community hall has been constructed for the settlers. Such luxurious community hall cannot be found anywhere in the country, the MP said. Similar is the case of the Primary Health Centre building. I bet that not even 10% of the massive PHC building can be utilized, Bishnu added. 

The Member of Parliament also pointed out that in the year 1980 a quarry was opened at Campbell Bay. The stones from this quarry were used for all the construction purposes in the island. But after tsunami this quarry was closed as the experts declared that the stones were of inferior quality. Stones were then imported from Thailand and other places by spending huge amount of public money. The imported stones still lie unutilized on the roadsides as it has turned out to be much more inferior than the local quarry product.

There are around 40 Ranchi families residing at Gudda Basti near the air strip at Campbell Bay. These families are being forced to vacate the area as the runway extension work is being undertaken. Unfortunately there is no package for the families and no steps are being taken for providing alternate land to them. The reason is the Supreme Court’s Order for protecting the forests. 

When the GoI can allot 236 Hectares land to the defence at survey no. 1 at Campbell Bay; 2000 Acres land to the IAF which is full of naturally grown commercial trees; 500 Acres land to the Navy near Galathia River; 10 Hectares for Coast Guard and 40 Hectares for Defence State Officer, why can’t it allot land to the settlers, the MP asked. 

“When it comes to the poor civilians, there is the Supreme Court’s Order and for the Defence there is none”, the MP said. 

“Soon after tsunami Dr. Manmohan Singh had visited Campbell Bay and had promised all possible help to the Ex-Servicemen settlers. People in Campbell Bay still carry photographs of the Prime Minister promising them by placing his hand on their heads. Now it is seven years after the visit and his promise still remains to be fulfilled”. 

“During my visit I could not promise much to the settlers but I assured them that I will take them to the Prime Minister in Delhi along with the photograph in my MP Quota. Let the nation’s leaders realize their false promises”, Bishnu Pada Ray added.