All householders of a village in Arunachal Pradesh’s Tawang district have become millionaires five years after the Army acquired their land for setting up key location plan units of its Tawang Garrison.
On Wednesday, Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu handed over cheques worth ₹408.04 million (₹40.8 crore) as land compensation to the heads of 31 families in Bomja, a village of Buddhist Monpas, located about 20 km west of district headquarters Tawang.
The Bomja family that parted with the most land received ₹67.33 million (₹6.73 crore). Another family received ₹24.5 million (₹2.45 crore) while the remaining 29 families were given ₹10.9 million (₹1.09 crore) each.
“More such compensation for land acquired for defence purposes is being worked out with the Centre,” Mr. Khandu said, thanking Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for clearing the backlog for Bomja.
“The Army and local people need each other to survive at 10,000-17,000 feet on the eastern Himalayas. We hope adequate compensation would further strengthen the bond we enjoy in this part of the country,” an officer of the Army’s 190 Mountain Brigade said, declining to be named.
'Richest village in India'
A Facebook group named Tawang Times claimed Bomja has become the richest village in India overnight. “We cannot say for sure unless we have data on other rich villages across the country,” an administrative officer in Tawang said.
The Army's presence in Arunachal Pradesh, specifically the western section leading to Tawang, had been scaled up since the Chinese aggression in 1962. This led to a land acquisition spree.
Many villagers in Tawang and West Kameng resented the non-payment of compensation for vast tracts of land acquired more than 50 years ago. Their anger died down after the Defence Ministry released ₹540 million (₹54 crore) in April last year for 152 families of three villages — Senge, Nyukmadung and Lish.
These villages are close to Sela, a mountain pass at 13,700 feet, where Rifleman Jaswant Singh Rawat of 4 Garhwal Rifles, during the 1962 war, singlehandedly kept 300 Chinese soldiers at bay before being killed. Rifleman Rawat is worshipped as a soldiers’ deity in a temple at Jaswantgarh beyond Sela on the road to Tawang.