At least 34 residential houses and a masjid have developed cracks in Acheri and Cafeteria in Ramban district as the cutting of road for the widening of Jammu-Srinagar National Highway progresses.
Fearing the collapse of the structures, the locals have demanded compensation and their rehabilitation.
They claim that land erosion, sinking of land and landslides have been taking place due to unplanned and unscientific widening on the highway and it has adversely affected the environment of the area.
“A total of 34 residential houses have developed cracks due to the widening of the highway. 14 residential houses are close to Jammu-Srinagar Highway at Cafeteria and 20 are at Acheri,” Imam Jamia Masjid Jadeed, Nazir Ahmed said.
This has happened after the construction company, the Imam of Jamia Masjid said, “engaged machines to cut the earth for the widening of the highway.” “It was due to the unplanned work that the land has become unstable triggering landslides and sinking in the Cafeteria area.”
Ahmed said that people from far-flung areas of Ramban District migrated and settled at Cafeteria more than 20 years back.
When the widening of the highway started, he said 6 residential houses were given compensation since their houses came under the widening work.
“It was shocking for them to notice cracks gradually developing in 20 residential houses at Acheri area of Cafeteria with the progress of the widening of the highway and one masjid has also become unsafe,” he said.
Advocate Irfan Khan told the Greater Kashmir: “The families are living in constant fear. It is unsafe to be here.”
A senior official, who wished not to be quoted, said: “We have requested the NHAI to install protection to avoid sinking of land and land-sliding on the highway.”
“When the road is cut for the purpose of widening, it becomes a sinking area following rains. The construction company is resolving the issue by digging tunnels to get rid of the land erosion, sinking and landslides,” the officer added.