Joram-Koloriang TAH scam: Cong demands dropping of DyCM Mein says allegation ‘baseless’

Joram-Koloriang TAH scam: Cong demands dropping of DyCM Mein says allegation ‘baseless’

Staff REPORTER

ITANAGAR, Jul 4: Barely a day after the Special Investigation Cell (Vigilance) arrested three persons including former Lower Subansiri DC Kemo Lollen, DLRSO Bharat Lingu and politician Likha Maj for their alleged involvement in gross irregularities in assessment and disbursement of compensation pertaining to the Joram to Koloriang stretch of Trans-Arunachal Highway project, the Arunachal Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC)-constituted TAH Assessment Committee today demanded the State Govt to act immediately and arrest all the people involved in the TAH compensation scam.

Addressing a press conference at Arunachal Press Club here, APCC’s TAH Assessment Committee chairman Tamchi Tahar said, arrest of only three persons is nothing but a mere eyewash as there are more than hundred people involved in the Joram-Koloriang TAH compensation scam.

“Arrest should start from top to bottom and nobody should be spared for such massive scam,” asserted Tahar.

While referring to a ‘notification’ dated 4th January 2018 issued by the then Lower Subansiri Deputy Commissioner, he claimed that it is on the basis of the said notification that the district administration had indulged in the compensation scam.

Reportedly, the then Lower Subansiri DC Lollen had issued the said notification on 4th January 2018 after a meeting held under the chairmanship of Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein, also Minister in-charge of PWD reducing the Right of Way (RoW) to 14 metres in urban centres under Lower Subansiri district for the construction of Trans-Arunachal Highway.

Claiming that DyCM Mein’s involvement in the scam could not be ruled out as the former DC allegedly worked at his behest as reflected in the notification issued by him, the Congress leader demanded Chief Minister Pema Khandu to immediately drop the DyCM from the Cabinet.

Also questioning the role of three MLAs – Likha Saaya, Tage Taki and Tamar Murtem for their alleged silent involvement in the scam, the Committee demanded the State Govt to drop them from the post of Parliamentary Secretaries and issue arrest permission through the Speaker against the trio.

Adding that huge amount of money was paid to imaginary or false beneficiaries and real ones were offered only few thousands against the original DPR amount, the Committee informed that one Joram Tabia of Yachuli was offered Rs 7000 only as compensation whereas as per the original DPR he was entitled to get Rs 19.93 lakh. However, the wife of Yachuli MLA, Likha Yapi, who has a relatively smaller establishment in the same location, was given an enhanced compensation of Rs 83 lakh against Rs 82.77 lakh in the DPR.

Notably, the Central Govt, through its agency NHIDCL, had funded for construction of TAH from Potin (Lower Subansiri) to Bopi (newly created Kamle district) amounting to Rs 198 crore, and from Joram (Lower Subansiri) to Koloriang (Kurung Kumey) amounting to Rs 40 crore.

Further, claiming that such scam might not be restricted to Kamle, Lower Subansiri and Kurung Kumey districts only as State Govt is allegedly involved in the same, the Committee called for handing over of the case to the CBI.

“Who will arrest DyCM and the Parliamentary Secretaries as they are part of the State Govt and SIC is under the Govt?,” the Committee questioned, adding that if the Govt has not any role in the scam the CM must hand over the case to CBI for a thorough investigation.

Stating that Trans-Arunachal Highway project is of national importance, the Committee lamented saying “the recent scam is social and economic murder and against the development of country”. It strongly demanded the Govt for immediate re-assessment of false beneficiaries and payment to the genuine ones as per the original DPR.

Expressing dissatisfaction over the arrest of only three persons, the Committee reiterated that everyone involved in the scam should be arrested immediately irrespective of their power and position, and investigated. Committee threatened to launch rigorous democratic movement if the State Govt fails to act upon the scam which it said ‘first of its kind not only in the state but also in whole world’.

Meanwhile, DyCM Chowna Mein described the APCC allegations as “baseless” as the decision to reduce RoW was taken with committee members, which included PWD chief engineer, design and planning team, all officers of the department, including law officers.

“The decision was taken collectively under my chairmanship as several standing structures would be demolished. To avoid large-scale demolition, the decision was taken by the committee and was not my sole decision”, he said.

Asked whether such a decision could be initiated by the Govt, Mein informed that the decision was taken under the Arunachal Pradesh Road Regulation and Development Act, 2015, and is completely legal.

“As per the Act, it is permissible under law to reduce the breadth of the road in urban areas. The Congress has no reason to blame the minister concerned. In fact, I have reduced the compensation amount and saved the Govt money.

Also, according to the Indian Road Congress, road specification is a guideline and not an Act adopted by the Parliament, and the specifications can be modified.”

“Why is the Congress trying to put the blame on us for reducing the compensation amount? They should instead be happy that we have saved Govt money and several standing structures,” added Mein.

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