With Chinook heavy lift helicopters engaged to airdrop ration rice to all air fed stations, like Damin, Lada, Pipsorang, Chambang, Taksing, Sarli, Parsiparlo and other remote places where roads are under construction in the land locked state of Arunachal Pradesh, the Indian Air force air freight charges have accumulated back logs of Rs 337 crore.
Expressing concern over the huge dues, Food & Civil Supplies, Legal Metrology and Consumer Affairs (F&CS, LM&CA) Minister Kamlung Mosang during a review meeting with departmental officers (held last week) advised the introduction of the porterage system to transport food grains to 13 air-fed administrative circles across the state to minimize air freight charges.
The system of ALC (Auxiliary Labour Corps) or porters has its advantages and disadvantages too. They used to transport bags and baggage of officers on transfer and postings and during their tours to inaccessible administrative centres during the NEFA (North East Frontier Agency) days.In those days, the Central Purchase Organization (CPO) used to air drop 24 essential commodities, including rice, oil, salt, match boxes, dry battery cells, etc in all air-fed centres through the public distribution system (PDS) with Roriah (Jorhat) in Assam as a base depot.
The 'tell all' fact is that innocent tribals are serving as sentinels of India's eastern most frontier and it is the responsibility of the state government to ensure food grain supply to them under the National Food Security Act, 2013The ALCs were an indivisible part of the administration and after every eight kms (at least) there used to be a temporary OB shelter replete with utensils along the foot track for the officers/officials to rest for the night where the ALCs used to cook and serve food. It was in 2003 that the concept of 'head load' got popularized with transportation of PDS items by human carriers. A man usually carries a bag of 20 kg rice on his back on the hilly track. If a group of a dozen porters are transporting rice, one load is free for their consumption on the way, which was the practice. The Dorjee Khandu Government deserves appreciation in recognizing their services by enhancing their wage and regularizing their services.
I recall Sahitya Academy awardee Y D Thongchi, second longest serving collector of India, narrating how they used to wait for dakiya (mail carrier) for days together during NEF days. I would like to recall the 'Ha anna' situation in Taksing under the Upper Subansiri district bordering China where 1,000 local people used to depend on PDS supply through porters. This was totally subject to vagaries of nature and used to take a week. This I had written about on 5th August 2013. However, the situation has changed now with the BRO building motorable road up to Taksing.
Roads have been built to many such inhabited and remote areas, but still 13 air fed locations need air lifting. Moreover, temporary OB shelters with utensils along the foot track are passé now. The 'tell all' fact is that those innocent tribals are serving as sentinels of India's eastern most frontier and it is the responsibility of the state government to ensure food grain supply to them under the National Food Security Act, 2013, which legally entitles rural population (upto 75%) and urban population (upto 50%) to receive subsidized foodgrains under the Targeted Public Distribution System.