Silchar, May 25: Rajya Sabha MP Sushmita Dev, on Tuesday, lashed out at the BJP led Government in Assam for applying pressure tactics upon the workers protesting against the drive to clear the tea bushes at the Doloo Tea Estate for the construction of the proposed Greenfield airport in Silchar.
Talking to reporters at her Silchar residence, Dev said "Being in the opposition, we all agree that Silchar needs a new civil airport and there is no disagreement on this, but the airport cannot be set up at the cost of snatching the interest of the tea garden labourers. How the BJP led Government has applied pressure tactics on the land acquisition issue and also how the Cachar district administration has unfolded the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Doloo Tea Company and the registered unions of the garden, gives an impression that there is enough element of suspicion of a possible vested interest behind the airport move which needs more clarification for the larger interest. Clamping Section 144 of the CrPC much like how the restrictions were enforced during the protests on the CAA issue and also during the farmers' protest by not allowing the opposition to reach the garden to learn about the ground realities amplifies the misgivings."
Further, expressing concerns about the compensation for the labourers working at the designated 2500 bigha of land of the tea garden, the Rajya Sabha MP said that the District Administration must clarify the various aspects whether transparency which is a key element in the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 was followed in the process of land acquisition or not.
She also questioned that while there was a flurry of assurances to the labourers of the garden dished out by Silchar MP Dr Rajdeep Roy, why was he not seen amidst the labourers with the messages which could have eased the tension and the controversy to a great deal.
She informed that she has written to Cachar Deputy Commissioner Keerthi Jalli stating "We are in favour of the development of Barak Valley and after the all-party meeting held in the office of the Cachar DC; we are not against the construction of the much-needed airport for Silchar. But the move must not do any injustice to the people on the said land. We have learnt about an existing dispute regarding the ownership of the tea estate and it is well known to the District Administration as well. Under the circumstances, the compensation to the labourers is shrouded under dark clouds of uncertainty. Hence, like the way the District Administration has posted the MoU on its Facebook page, even though at a far later time from the date of signing of the document, it must also have published a public notification on the issue as per the Act of 2013 in the local newspapers or at least on its Facebook page by now. Also, the Social Impact Assessment and Environment Impact Assessment Report along with the Sanction letter for the airport from the Government of India must be made public by the Administration maintaining transparency," she claimed. Dev informed that she has written to Union Minister for Civil Aviation Jyotiraditya Scindia to know whether the Centre has given any go-ahead with regards to the construction of a Greenfield airport in Silchar.