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Ahead of Modi’s visit, farmers, landowners stage protest

Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the state, a group of farmers and landowners on Thursday staged a protest demonstration against “forcible acquisition of their lands in lieu of paltry compensation” for construction of semi-ring roads in twin cities of Srinagar and Jammu.

The affected farmers/landowners under the banner ‘All Jammu and Kashmir Ring Road Landowners’ Welfare Community’ held a protest demonstration at Press Enclave here seeking higher compensation rates for the land to be acquired for the semi-ring roads.

PM Modi would lay the foundation stone for the Rs 939.41 crore semi-ring road project during his visit to Jammu and Kashmir on May 19,Jammu and Kashmir is set to “lose” 10,911 kanals of agriculture land to the construction of semi ring roads in both regions – Kashmir and Jammu— of the state.

The construction of semi ring roads will affect around 11528 farmers who are accusing the government of snatching their livelihood in lieu of paltry compensation.

The Land Acquisition Act, 1934, is an outdated law, under which compensation offered is four times less than what our counterparts get in the neighbouring Punjab and elsewhere. Government is offering us Rs 29 lakh per kanal plus fifteen percent solatium, while as the same land fetches Rs 80 lakh per kanal as per the prevailing market rate,” said Ghulam Ahmad Paul, president of the land owners welfare community.

“Jammu and Kashmir High Court has also directed the state government to consider release of compensation for villagers whose lands come under the construction of the semi ring roads in Srinagar and Jammu as per the decision of National Highway Authority of India (NHAI). But so far there is no implementation. By protesting ahead of PM’s visit we want to lodge our complaint that our livelihood is being snatched,” he said.

Paul said the government impressed upon the people to focus on agriculture and horticulture and “claims this sector to be backbone of our economy, but on the other hand it makes people landless by forcibly acquiring their land.”

“If NHAI gives 4 times more compensation to farmers in other states, why it is being denied in J&K?” asks Raja Muzaffar Bhat, an aggrieved land owner.

Approximately, 12,450 kanals and 14 marlas of land are to be acquired for construction of semi ring roads around Jammu and Srinagar cities, out of which 10,911 kanals and 13 marlas are agricultural land, according to the Detailed Project report of the semi ring roads.

The report discloses that out of 10,911 kanals, Kashmir will lose 4730 kanals of agriculture land. Semi ring road would consume 3661 kanals of agriculture land in Budgam, 379 kanals in Pulwama, 202 kanals in Srinagar, 150 kanals in Baramulla, 160 kanals in Bandipora and 176 kanals in Ganderbal.

In Jammu total farmland to be utilized for construction of semi road is pegged at 6181 kanals.

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