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‘Govt denying us information on land acquisition under RTI Act’..

‘Govt denying us information on land acquisition under RTI Act’The assistant commissioner revenue (ACR) Budgam has allegedly denied information to farmers under the Right to Information Act about the 6000 kanals of land being acquired by the National Highway Authority of India for construction of 62-km semi ring road connecting Pampore with Ganderbal via Budgam.
The farmers said the government was forcing them to give away their land on low prices.“We are seeking a fair price for our lands. In this connection we filed an RTI application before the public information officer, i.e. the ACR Budgam last year,” a group of farmers said.
In the RTI application, the farmers have sought documents pertaining to the land acquisition in Budgam district for the semi-ring road.
“Over 300 families are affected by this project, so there is an urgent need of these documents as our land is being forcibly acquired by the government and the NHAI,” the farmers said in the application.
“The NHAI pays four times more compensation to affected families/ farmers in other states of India, but in Jammu and Kashmir the government pays only stamp rate plus 15 percent solatium because Central Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act is not applicable to J&K,” the farmers said.
But 29 days after the filing of the RTI application, the ACR Budgam replied that he was not the designated PIO, without informing the applicants who the PIO was.
The aggrieved farmers then tried to find the name of the public information officer and the first appellate authority (FAA) on the website of the Budgam district administration, but the website had no such details.
However, deputy commissioner Budgam, Haroon Malik, confirmed that the ACR was the designated PIO.
“The ACR Budgam is in possession of this information but he is not ready to give us the same despite the fact that we are the major stakeholders in the whole issue. We are asking for our own documents but these are not being provided to us,” the farmers, miffed by the response of the ACR,
“As per the provisions of J&K RTI Act 2009, if the ACR was not in possession of the information, he should have forwarded our RTI application to the designated PIO within 5 days. But he kept us waiting for 30 days,” the farmers said.
Raja Muzzafar Bhat, an RTI activist, said, “The documents related to the land acquisition should have been made available proactively under section 4 (1) (b) of J&K RTI Act 2009 but this has not been done. J&K Land Acquisition Act also directs the authorities to make these documents public, but the officers hardly care and take poor farmers for-granted.”

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