Ray sets agenda for PM Modi’s visit to isles

Report by: 
ROOPA LALL
Port Blair
11 Nov 2018

The Member of Parliament, Mr. Bishnu Pada Ray has set the agenda for implementation by the UT administration for the ensuing visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the Islands. He has written a letter to the Prime Minister, with copies to the local administration, mentioning about the projects which needs to be implemented on the ground on a fast track and resolving the issues concerning the islanders.  Addressing a press conference at MP Bhawan on Saturday, Mr. Ray said in his letter he has requested the Prime Minister as well as the local administration for inclusion of the agenda points mentioned in the letter in the ensuing PM tour programme to the A&N Islands. He said that he has written the letter to the Prime Minister in order to bring to his notice various long pending demands which involve larger public interest and are of great importance for the development of the Islands. He wanted that the administration should resolve these issues in view of ensuing visit of Prime Minster to the Islands.
Being the lone Member of Parliament from the A&N Islands Parliamentary Constituency, he is answerable to the public for the slow pace of development as well as issues concerning the islanders, he said and added that during the last four years, the NDA govt. and A&N Administration did excellent works in comparison to the last 50 years. The MP wanted that the foundation stone for Optical Fiber Cable from Chennai to Port Blair may be laid by the Prime Minister during his visit to Port Blair. The project costing Rs.1232 has been sanctioned on 21st September 2016. The work has been awarded to a Japan based Company on 22nd May 2018, and likely to be completed by 2020.  He further requested for laying the foundation stone/announcement for construction of bridge between Chatham – Bambooflat. This is one of the long pending demands of the islanders. A number of meetings were held between MoRTH, MoD, MHA in this regard to execute the  project through NHIDCL and tender have been already floated by NHIDCL for appointment of consultant for DPR preparation on 8th October 2018, the MP asserted.

Mr. Ray desired that during the visit of the Prime Minister, announcement for the terminal buildings at Phoenix Bay, Neil Island and Havelock under Sagarmala project can be made.  Further, foundations can be laid at the hands of the Prime Minister for the construction of Container Transhipment Terminal at Shore Point on the land of ATI acquired by the Port Management Board and Andaman Marine Drive from Prem Nagar to Dundas Point for a length of 24.47 kms. The MP further requested for laying of foundation of the 50 MW LNG based Power Plant to be set up at Hope Town, Bambooflat under PP Mode with NTDC by the Prime Minister. Other important demands made by the MP includes restoration of supply of sugar on subsidy rate and rice to the APL category of 9000 families here as the A&N Islands is a food deficit area. He added that the financial implication for subsidy for sugar would be hardly Rs.2 Cr. per year. He expressed his disappointment that despite submitting letters to the concern Ministry and local administration, this issue is still hanging fire. 
Regularisation of the left out excess land in occupation by Pre-1961 settlers without payment of premium may be taken up during the Prime Minister visit. One of the important demand of the MP is enactment of law for making it mandatory for domicile of A&N Islands for the post of Group "A", " B" and "C" which, he said comes under the purview of A&N Administration. Describing unemployment as a major issue in the islands, he informed that around 50,000 out of almost four lakhs population of the islands are registered with the employment exchange, which is alarming. He observed that a protection mechanism needs to be adopted so as to give government jobs to the bona-fide residents of the Islands. He stated that apprehension of large scale immigration from neighbouring countries is a serious threat to safety and security of the strategically important Island Territory. In view of this, necessary precautionary measures may be taken to safeguard the territory.
The MP further demanded grant of fund as special package for repairs/construction of rural roads in the Islands as the present condition of rural roads are deplorable, lacking repair works since past 15 years due to fund crises. Due to paucity of fund in PRIs in view of pending of back log payments, the PRIs are unable to take up repair/construction of new roads. Mr. Ray specifically raised the issue of worst conditions of ATR road, particularly from Baratang to Diglipur. He blamed NHIDCL for the delay in execution of awarded works due to supervising lapses.  He has taken up the matter umpteen numbers of times with the administration as well as NHIDCL, but to his dismay no improvement is visible on ground.  He further stated that during 2015, the limit of Port Blair Municipal area was extended from 18 to 24 wards by adding 6 new wards, along with transfer of various assets including roads, buildings etc in dilapidated conditions to the PBMC without any additional fund from PRI. As a result, additional financial burden has been put on the PBMC. At this stage to meet the overall requirements, the PBMC required an amount of Rs.40 cr. In the water sector, Rs.20 Cr. is required as one time grant for ensuing effective water supply. Dishing out the justification of the fund requirement, he said PBMC is responsible for distribution of treated water to the urban population, including day to day maintenance of pipe line network of 1161.64 km and for smooth functioning of water supply. As the existing pipe lines in all the wards which were laid 25 years back are damaged/rusted, it required immediate replacement.  Similarly, new pipe lines also needs to be laid in newly extended six wards after constructing necessary storage tanks etc. 

For urban development, an amount of Rs 40 Cr. is required as the limit of PBMC has been extended from 18 kms to 42 kms. Rs.20 Cr. per year was granted since last 3 years under urban development sector but during 2018-19, no fund has been released though Utilization Certificates for Rs.18 Cr. has been submitted.  Since last 5 years, around Rs.40 Cr. per year has been sanctioned to PBMC under Urban Development sector.  But since last two years, the fund has been reduced to Rs.30 Cr. due to non-submission of UC. As per 4th UT Finance Commission recommendations, the responsibility for submission of UC lies on officials concerned but the administration preferred to protect the officials rather taking action for non performance, the MP said.  He demanded that for execution of civil amenities timely, the earlier sanction Rs.40 Cr. pa. may be restored. Additional fund under Urban Development Sector may be provided so that the functional requirements of PBMC are not hampered. Budgetary Support of Rs.165 Cr. per annum may be released to PBMC to meet its expenses.
Regularisation of services of 1207 casual workers/DRMs working in the PBMC for more than 15 years as one time measures after exempting norms by creating supernumerary posts, filling up the 200 Mazdoors posts lying vacant in PBMC by regularisation of senior most DRMs against vacant posts may be done. He expressed his disappointment that  the administration instead of providing jobs to the DRMs, preferred to turn down the recommendations of the Council stating that such decision is against the prescribed norms/rules for appointment.  In such similar circumstances, despite having prescribed rules/ norms, several DRMs working in the other departments of the administration are denied jobs against the vacant posts as well as by creating supernumerary posts, said a disappointed MP. Further, Mr. Ray also wanted that the handing over of the 7 New NH works (90.72 km for 6 locations and 45.75 kms at Car Nicobar) from NIDCL to APWD. NHIDCL was made the Project Proponent (PP) and was asked to submit the DPR/estimate for new NHs (90.70 km) but nothing concrete has been done by NHIDCL till date except DPR preparation.
Modernisation of Govt. Saw Mill at Chatham is pending since last 20 years, construction of sluice gate at Jodakalan, enhancement of honorarium for Anganwadi workers and Helpers, enhancement of consolidated pay for Part time Teachers, Aya, Safai Karmachari, Peon-cum-Chowkidari, Craft Instructors pending in the Administration, enhancement of salary of SSA Teachers at par with the payment being paid in the central govt. schools like Kendriya vidhyalaya, Navodaya, Naval Schools etc are among the other issues the MP has demanded should be resolved and announced during the visit of Prime Minister. The MP also raised the issue of airlifting of stretcher patients from Port Blair to Chennai and Kolkatta on a fixed rate as decided by for PM Vajapyee Govt.  Vajpayee Govt. during 2003 fixed nominal rate of Rs.12,000 for stretcher patient for airlifting on emergency cases as referred by the referral hospital.  The present rate for stretcher patient is more than Rs.1 lakh which is higher than the medical treatment expenses and islanders unable to bear this higher cost. He demanded that reasonable air fare for stretchers patents may be fixed for the islanders. Further, the announcement of air connectivity between Port Blair, C/bay and Diglipur through Udan Scheme may be done during the visit of the Prime Minister. Other issues include expediting setting up of 10 Nos. New LPG distribution centres at Prothrapur, Bathubasthi, Bambooflat, Baratang, Kadamtala, Rangat, Mayabunder, Little Andaman, Nancowry, Car Nicobar and Campbell Bay. He raised his concern that free distribution of LPG connections to all the eligible beneficiaries under PM Ujjal Yojana has not yet been provided in many Panchayat and in Nicobar Tribal district. Consumers are not getting LPG subsidy since many years in the North & Middle Andaman and other locations like Little Andaman, C/Bay, Car Nicobar etc due to management lapses by the IOC and department concerned.   
Poor net work of BSNL in entire A&N Islands, supply of water facilities and Solar Home Light system to the Post-78 forest encroachers, opening stone quarries at various locations such as Little Andaman, Campbell Bay, Kamorta, Baratang, Kadamtala, Basanthipur, Pudumadhurai, Austin, Kishorinagar, Nabhagram, Madhpur etc. for easily availability of raw masteries for saving of transportation cost etc. for  various projects works such as APWD, Rural roads, NHIDCL/NH works, CRF works, Defence, MES, Airport works, etc, setting up of Transhipment Port at Campbell Bay, exemption/relaxation in levy of import duty on various materials to be imported from ASEAN countries (such as Stone materials, cement, quartz sand, silica sand, timber logs, fishing boats, yachts etc) for alteast 10 years,  constitution of Land Tribunal for fast tracking all land related cases, commencement of Luxury cruise circuit to South East Asian countries, setting up of Industrial Estates at Bakultala on the Jayshree Timber Products like Garacharma, Dollygunj for employment creation and construction of  additional Jetty at Diglipur for berthing of big size mainland bounded ships which will convenient to the N&M Andaman public are among the other demands raised by the Member of Parliament.