Srinagar- Over 500 families from Central Kashmir’s Budgam district await compensation for the land acquired by the government recently for the construction of the ambitious Semi Ring Road project.
According to officials, over 590 acres of agricultural land has been acquired for 62-kilometre road project which would connect Pulwama and Ganderbal districts via Budgam through Pampore, Wathoora, Budgam, Dharmuna and Narbal in western outskirts of summer capital Srinagar.
Major portion of the land measuring—400 acres of farmland was acquired in the Budgam district alone for the highway project.
Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Pandurang K. Pole, earlier told Kashmir Observer as far as land acquisition and handing over is concerned, the government has handed over more than 97% land coming under alignment.
However, the aggrieved farmers from Budgam especially, Wathoora village told Kashmir Observer that they are yet to receive the compensation from the Union Territory government.
Lateef Dar, an aggrieved farmer told Kashmir Observer that the collector semi-ring road, Budgam has deposited the compensation amount for the farmers in the District Court Budgam.
“However, the farmers were told by the court that the money hasn’t been deposited yet by the treasury department,” he said.
Dar said the farmers await compensation even as the funds have already been transferred to the court.
Over three kanals of agricultural land of Dar has been acquired by the government but he is yet to receive compensation.
According to a bill, from the District Collector Semi Ring road Budgam, to District court Budgam, a rate of Rs. 38.00 lac per Kanal plus 15% Jabrana was approved for the proprietary land.
“Out of total awarded amount for land, approximately Rs. 41.00 cr has been disbursed in favour of land owners of the said village, however, the land owners whose details are enclosed as annexure A refused to receive the compensation. Therefore, in terms of Section 32 (2) of the J&K Land Acquisition Act. Sv. 1990, the amount of compensation is deposited in the official account of Hon’ble Principal District Judge Budgam for further course of action,” reads the bill.
The farmers however said that they want fair compensation and the government has kept them away from the Central Land Acquisition Act.
Ghulam Nabi, another villager from Wathoora told Kashmir Observer that it was the year 2017, when the government issued a notification for the land acquisition.
“Our nine kanal land was taken in March 2022, but the government is offering us the old rate of Rs 38 lakh/kanal. Today, the existing market price of one kanal land is around Rs 2 crore,” he said.
He further added that government notification was issued much before abrogation of Article 370 under the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir Land Acquisition Act of 1934.
“Now since the central Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 is applicable in J&K, the government should provide us the compensation according to this Act,” Ghulam Nabi added.
He further said that despite over a four month gap, the compensation has not been provided to the affected villagers.
The villagers from Wathoora also filed petitions against the notification dated 18.3.2017 for land acquisition issued by Collector Land Acquisition (ACR) earlier. The High Court of J&K and Ladakh, however, asked the government in March 2022 to proceed with construction of a ring road around Srinagar.
Meanwhile, Collector Land Acquisition Budgam Muzamil Maqbool told Kashmir Observer that they have compensated the farmers of almost all the villages but those from Wathoora refused to accept the compensation because of the rates.
“They aren’t coming forward to receive the compensation due to the reason best known to them,” Maqbool said.
He further added that over Rs 100 crore was sanctioned for the farmers and half of the funds have been disbursed among the farmers.
When asked that the farmers are saying that the Court maintained that the treasury hasn’t provided any funds yet, he said, “That is the issue of treasure but we have cleared it from our end,” he added.
When asked whether the government is thinking of providing the compensation under the new land laws, he said “The matter is subjudice, the court will decide,”
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