Port Blair, Oct. 9:  A press conference was called today by the Pradesh Congress Committee to discuss various burning issues of the Islands including Buffer Zone Notification, Compensation of Submerged land, Viper Island row etc.

In his opening address Shri Mohammed Ali, Senior Congressman said, “The Congress does not want Buffer Zone to be implemented. While we are very concerned about the welfare of the Jarawa tribe, we also sympathize with the 2.5 lakh settlers who are affected”.

“The Congress party instead had made all efforts to win the confidence of the Andaman Administration which has benefitted the general public”, he said.

With regard to compensation to the tsunami affected farmers in lieu of the submerged land, Ali said, “The Congress had taken up the issue and requested for compensation along with alternate land. It was during the time of Prof. Ram Kapse, the then Lt. Governor of the Islands. The BJP was the ruling party at that time but they never did anything for the welfare of the victim farmers”.

Attacking the Member of Parliament, Shri Bishnu Pada Ray, the senior Congress leader had to say, “The Member of Parliament has not raised any issue in the parliament for the welfare of the Islanders. If at all he has raised any issue, it had caused endless problems to the Islanders. He should have raised issues like unemployment, water scarcity and such issues which affects the general public”.

The decision regarding surrendering the submerged land of the farmers was taken up during the Island Development Authority meeting held at New Delhi and it was done in the presence of the Member of Parliament. The MP never raised any objections then?  It is nothing but a double standard of the MP, Ali stressed.

“The MP is targeting 2014 and making all efforts that the tsunami affected farmers do not get their compensation before the general elections. It is his policy”.

Mohammed Ali further said, “I was happy to see the newspapers today, where the MP had called on the Lt. Governor and discussed various issues pertaining to the Islands. But why the delay in meeting the LG when the issue of Buffer Zone arose? Why did he not try to meet the LG with regard to the Submerged Land issue?”

“The Congress party instead had made all efforts to win the confidence of the Andaman Administration which has benefitted the general public.  The Congress has raised many issues pertaining to unemployment, teachers etc. which our President Shri Kuldeep Rai Sharma had taken up personally with the Administration”, Ali reiterated.

Speaking on the occasion, Shri Sheik Farook Alam, Spokesperson of the Congress party slammed the MP by saying that he is trying to complicate things rather than solving the issues. People had elected him to represent their burning issues but the MP is doing the opposite, he said.

“He is just concentrating on degrading the UPA and Shri Kuldeep Rai Sharma to benefit in the 2014 election”.

Farook further said that Sharmaji since the beginning wanted that the farmers be compensated and their land not be taken away. And if the compensation is in lieu of land then alternate land should be provided.

Taking up the Viper Island Yacht Marina Project proposed by the Administration, the Spokesperson was of the opinion that the Administration is doing it for the welfare of the Islanders. It would provide employment opportunities instead, he said.

“I am a member of Viper Island Society and hold maximum share in it. If one visits Viper Island he would notice that the Gallows has at least a foot of cow dung layer inside. The walls are filled with vulgar drawings and sketches. Why did the BJP not object to it?  Today when the Administration is planning for a project by taking away mere 5 acres of land, providing employment and also to rebuild the monuments, why does the MP have objections”, he asked.

“The MP also talks about security when it comes to Viper Island Project. I am sure there will be no dearth of security with the kind of defence establishment existing in the area”, the Spokesperson added. 

Smti Shanta Singh, President Women’s Wing of Congress, who is in her 70s, compared the situation during her youth and the present. She said that there were hardly any facilities during her time. But one can see the development and facilities the Islanders have at present. It is all because of the efforts of the Congress party, she said. Shanta Singh also explained that the LG had initiated reservation for women in busses and many such initiatives, which is laudable.

Among the others who were present on the occasion Shri R.V. Reddy, President South Andaman District Congress Party, who did not speak on the occasion.

It was a rare occasion when the Congress calls a press conference. The hall was filled with media persons considering the rarity of the event but was depressed later as the President PCC Shri Kuldeep Rai Sharma could not make it to the conference inspite of being present in the premises.